The Sariska Tiger Reserve, which had lost all its big cats by 2004 to rampant poaching, has welcomed the first birth of a tiger cub on its soil after a four-year wait.
Even more exciting news for the reserve in Rajasthan’s Alwar district is the cub may have two siblings.
The speculation that a tigress had given birth to cubs proved true on Tuesday night, when forest officials checked a trap camera installed in the Kalighati region of the reserve, 130 km northeast of Jaipur.
A one-and-half-month old cub was seen following his mother, seven-and-half-year old ST-2 (Sariska tigress), in the camera recording.
The cub’s birth is the first success for the country’s first tiger-relocation effort.
“I knew from her (tigress’) appearance that she had given birth, but we were waiting for confirmation. Now a jinx attached to Sariska has been removed. The department is now geared up for protection of tigers,” state forest and environment minister Bina Kak said on Wednesday. She said 90 home guards would be deployed in Sariska.
After giving birth, the tigress kept her cubs hidden. Sariska’s district forest officer Sedu Ram Yadav said this was normal. “A tigress keeps her newborn in hiding for around two months. We were waiting to see a cub to confirm the news. It is likely that the tigress has given birth to three cubs,” he added.
ST-2 is second big cat, and the first tigress, shifted to Sariska on July 4, 2008, from Ranthambhore National Park. The first relocated tiger, ST-1, was poisoned to death in November 2010. Villagers whose cattle graze in the reserve reportedly killed ST-1 after it attacked their animals.
Rajasthan’s former principal chief conservator of forests, RN Mehrotra, who pioneered tiger relocation in the state, said Sariska was resilient and had bounced back. “People should work together for success of tiger project in Sariska.”