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Decoding the Sariska tiger puzzle

india Updated: Jun 29, 2009 00:52 IST
Highlight Story

All the three tigers sent to Sariska so far have grown up in and around the tourism zone of the Ranthambhore National Park. Many field guards, guides and regular tourists have spotted and photographed them. They all have a clear idea of their lineage and can confirm they are step-siblings.

“Not many will go on record fearing action against them by the park authorities,” said Aditya Singh, Ranthambore’s well-known wildlife photographer. “But we have seen these tigers grow up. The male was born to the tigress in the Chiroli zone of the park, and the two females to another tigress in the Jhalra zone. All three cubs were fathered by the same male as he was the only dominant tiger in that area since 2004. He has been filmed mating with the Jhalra tigress. I can’t believe the park authorities did not know this.”

HT has analysed the Wildlife Institute of India’s 2006 tiger census. The census extensively used camera traps and clicked 356 photographs of 31 tigers in Ranthambhore over 19 days.

The result threw up five adult males — two of them too young to have fathered the male cub born to the Chiroli tigress. It clearly defined the territories of the three other males, as well as that of the Jhalra and Chiroli females.

As the accompany map of Ranthambore shows, the territories of the Jhalra and Chiroli females fall within the territory of Anantpura male. Except under rare circumstances, the other males in the park could not have mated with either of the two females without dislodging the Anantpura male from this area. It follows that all cubs born to the Jhalra and Chiroli females during that time were fathered by Anantpura male.

“Very rarely will a male tiger allow other males in his territory,” said Fateh Singh Rathore, ex-conservator of Ranthambore. “I do not see any chance of any other male mating the Anantpura male’s tigresses.”

“The fact that the Anantpura male shared space with the Chiroli male cub indicates that they are father and son. A male tiger would kill the litter of another male,” said P.K. Sen, former director, Project Tiger.