Tiger lovers in Madhya Pradesh can finally cheer. Forty six tiger cubs have been sighted on camera trap photographs in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, officials said on Monday.
“Our research teams are still working to find out more details about these cubs. Nearly 35 cubs are in the age bracket of 10 to 24 months, while 11 cubs are below 11 months”, said KP Bangar, joint director of the reserve
The news brought smiles on the faces of many wildlife officials after a depressing year for the big cat with 18 tiger deaths since January.
The Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, located between the Vindhyan and Satpura ranges in the state’s Umaria district, has one of the highest tiger densities in the country, with over 70 tigers in the part. Because of this, the reserve has witnessed increasing incidents of man-animal conflict in the last few years, with both humans and tigers getting killed.
Bangar said they identified the number of cubs through comparison of various photographs that they accessed from different camera traps installed in different locations of the reserve. “These camera traps are not only giving us rough idea about the number of cubs, but also information about their movement, health and probable age”, he said.
But many wildlife experts are worried about the safety of the cubs that remain vulnerable. Besides the threat of poaching, cubs are killed by other male tigers who wish to mate with tigresses. Wild animals such as hyenas and wild dogs are also known to attack cubs.
In March last year, tiger lovers staged a candle light protest march against the killing of a six-month old cub by poachers at the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve after it got caught in a snare made of galvanized iron wire set up by poachers.
“Presence of so many cubs in the reserve has increased our responsibility. We have to ensure their safety and see to it that they grow in a healthy atmosphere without much interference from any side”, said Bangar.
When asked whether it was possible that many camera trap photographs featured same cubs, Bangar said they might have got confused with few cubs, but overall they were confident that the number of cubs in the Reserve was over 40.