Ranthambore tigers move closer to human habitats as numbers rise
From 59 tigers in 2014, the reserve now has 86 big cats in the reserve, according to official data released by RTR. The 86 tigers live in an area of 1,334 square km of the reserve.
The Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district has seen a 45% growth in big cat population in last eight years, but it has added to concern as the felines do not have enough space to mark their territory, leading to a dozen moving out and posing danger to nearby human habitats, officials said.
From 59 tigers in 2014, the reserve now has 86 big cats in the reserve, according to official data released by RTR. The 86 tigers live in an area of 1,334 square km of the reserve, making it the third most congested habitats of big cats in India after Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
Of the total tigers, about a dozen adults in age group of 3 to 5 years were moving in the periphery of the reserve as they do not have their marked territory, RTR field director Sedu Ram Yadav told HT.
“Dispersal of adult tigers has increased because of congestion and these dozen tigers are concern for us as they don’t have a territory,” Yadav said.
Tigers are dominant territorial animals and they normally do not allow another feline in their marked area.
“Most of such big cats are in periphery area as they have been pushed out by stronger tigers. The concern is not just that these tigers are moving in periphery but if they disperse outside during monsoon, it will bring them in contact with human settlements,” he added.
Directions have been given to ensure 24x7 monitoring of these tigers and to install camera traps on their movements, he said.
The challenge of area crunch with increasing tiger population is not new for RTR. “The tiger population is rising in the reserve, which needs space. We have been suggesting relocation of some tigers to other reserves,” said a senior forest official, requesting anonymity.
Though the number of tigers has increased in RTR, some have also gone missing. From January 2020 to March 2021, a total of 12 big cats — male tigers T-47, T-42, T-62, T-64, T-95, T-97, and tigress T-72, T-73 and its three cubs, and T-92 — have gone missing, the senior forest official added.
“Tiger wandering on the periphery of the reserve is a concern as they could be poached, human-animal conflict also cannot be ruled out. Or they can even drift outside and go missing like 13 others as reported,” said Sunayan Sharma, retired IFS officer. “Only solution is creation of effective corridors and liberally relocation in other deficit reserves on war-footing.”
The survival rate of cubs has gone down by 30% since 2018 in the reserve, a report said. It added that in 2018 four cubs were born and all survived, while in 2022, of the 11 born, three died.
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