Four tigers — two male and two female — will soon be on their way to the Panna reserve in Madhya Pradesh, to revive the population of the big cats there.
They will join two tigresses shifted to the park earlier.
While this comes as good news for the park, it also makes it clear that there are no longer any male tigers in the park — a fact that has been suspected for long but which the state government has denied so far.
HT had in December 2008 reported that Panna — spread across 540 sq km — had probably lost all its tigers. But the state forest department, while admitting that all the tigresses were dead, kept insisting a male had been spotted.
Even the Union Environment Ministry backed the state and allowed the relocation of the two tigresses — one each from the Bhandhavgarh and Kanha reserves, within 300 km of Panna. “It will help us revive the tiger population as we already have a male in the reserve,” L.K. Chaudhary, director of Panna, had told HT.
But the clamour over tiger deaths did not die down with that assurance. The ministry finally constituted a Special Investigation Team, which last week told the government that all of Panna’s native tigers were dead. That prompted the ministry to approve the state government’s proposal for the relocation of a tiger to Panna and increased the number to four on the recommendation of the Wildlife Institute of India.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has also asking the state forest department to fix responsibility for the death of 30 deaths since 2004.