It’s a record of sorts. A tiger brought to Panna National Park from the Pench Tiger Reserve in November 2009 as part of a reintroduction plan has its DNA running through 37 of the 41 tigers born in Panna since 2010.
Assigned the call sign T-3, this paterfamilias of Panna, aged about 10 years, has his off-springs spread over a radius of more than 300 kms from where he stays.
Alternatively called ‘Mr Panna’ and ‘Betal’, the park authorities also attribute him for introducing T-4, a tigress that was earlier bred in an enclosure to wild conditions.
Panna tiger reserve had been declared ‘tiger less’ in December 2008, after which a reintroduction plan was launched with four adult tigresses and a tiger.
T-3 now weighs about 240 kgs and qualifies as a massive tiger, occupying the best habitat in Panna national park. The tiger almost died when it was tranquilised at Pench to be brought to Panna. He survived and reached Panna on November 6, 2009, but walked out of the reserve in December 2009.
Wildlife experts termed his behavior as “homing”, suggesting that the tiger was trying to go back to his original home at Pench. Sleepless park authorities, aided with radio collar signals followed him, tranquilised him in Damoh district and brought him back.
T-3 then settled down and has since fathered litters from T-1, T-2, T-4 and T-5 tigresses, besides from other tigresses born later in Panna.
“We often call T-3 a ladies’ man because he would get his way with any tigress he pursued. T-4, a tigress that had been bred in an enclosure at Kanha was released in Panna. It was a first of its kind experiment and we were worried how she would adapt to the wild. Soon, T-3 arrived in the picture, and was always around the tigress. T-3 made a kill in the process and in a way taught the tigress how to do so in the wild, completing her adaptation to her new home,” said chief conservator of forests (CCF) and former field director, Panna tiger reserve, R Sriniwas Murthy.
T-3’s exact age is not known as he was born in the wild, but park authorities claim he is about 10 years old. He is getting old and would soon face a challenge for territory from other males, which he had been able to ward off till now, mainly due to his massive size.
The most obvious challenger would be P 112, his eldest ‘son’ with whom he would have to vie for holding on to the best areas of the reserve.
“Panna needs another male so that the gene pool can be diversified,” says Murthy, adding that two male tigers were part of the original reintroduction plan.