Reviving Sariska's tiger footprints
Baghani, a tigress has been transferred to Sariska National Park in an attempt to revive the dominating position big cats had within the reserve. Filmmaker Nalla muthu captures Baghani's life in her new home through the documentary Tiger Dynasty. Alexina Correya writes.Updated: Mar 11, 2012 07:29 IST
Wild boars, Sambar deer and jackals thrive in Sariska National Park in Alwar and leopards hunt without fear. The tiger is missing -- it is almost gone from the park.
All that may change: Baghani, a young tigress from Ranthambhore, has been trans-located into Sariska. She is not alone: Rathore, a male tiger has been separately introduced into the park by the reserve officials in a hope that the two cats will meet and succeed in establishing a family of their own.
Cinematographer and wildlife documentary maker Subbiah Nalla Muthu takes us through Baghani's uncertain exploration of her unfamiliar new home, a boost in her confidence, and her evolution into a skillful predator in his documentary Tiger Dynasty. The documentary is part of a five-documentary BBC series on endangered wildlife.
Baghani, named after a village inside Sariska National Park, is one of the five big cats relocated into the park by the Rajasthan forest department as part of the tiger revival project. Sariska National Park used to be one of India's top tiger reserves until poachers ensured their local extinction.
Baghani comes from Ranthambhore National Park, 140 kms south of Sariska, and her transfer is an attempt to revive the dominating position the big cat had within the reserve. Earlier known to be a submissive and timid tigress, Baghani comes of age in the documentary.
Nalla says he has a fondness for Baghani. "I have been filming her since she was a young cub," he says.
Days later, we see Baghani gorging on Rathore's kill, this breaks the ice between them and they mate, bringing the project one step closer to its success.
Though tigers have been transferred into Sariska since 2008, the park is yet to deliver a tiger cub. Experts are divided on the reason behind Sariska's failure to produce cubs.
"Tigers are always a challenge to shoot. It's much easier to shoot in Africa's open space, but in India you may get to see (the animal) for five seconds, sometimes you won't," said Nalla explaining why he loves to shoot big cats in India's forests.
"I want to break the common convention in India that only foreign film makers can shoot in the wild," the filmmaker said.
His film Tiger Queen was India's first full length wildlife film shot with a high definition (HD) camera.
Though there are no reports of tiger poaching within the Sariska reserve since the project started, human threat to the big cat's survival is far from gone.