Tiger from Ranthambore enters Kuno; officials say no threat to cheetahs but monitoring closely

May 02, 2023 12:04 AM IST

A tiger from Ranthambore Reserve has entered Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India, where three types of big cats now reside. The tiger had been attempting to make a home near the Chambal River in Sheopur district since November 2022. Half a dozen tigers from Ranthambore have entered Kuno at different times in the past eight years, but none have made it their home. The park has three cheetahs in the wild and 19 in an enclosure. The government of India started the National Cheetah Translocation Project to reintroduce cheetahs to the country.

Bhopal A tiger from the Ranthambore reserve that was roaming in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur forest for the past two months, entered the Kuno National Park (KNP) this week, senior forest officials said on Monday, confirming the presence of three kinds of big cats there — cheetah, leopard, and tiger.

The tiger seen on a camera trap (HT Photo)
The tiger seen on a camera trap (HT Photo)

The tiger, T 136, was trying to make its home in areas near the Chambal river in Sheopur district since November 2022, and entered Kuno on Sunday. Around half a dozen tigers from Ranthambore have entered Kuno at different times in the past eight years as the park falls in the green corridor connecting the two wildlife habitats. None of them, however, made Kuno their home.

“The pug marks were seen in buffer area of Kuno National Park near Khadi Shyampur. The tiger was also seen by patrolling teams. Now, forest teams are tracing the movement of three cheetahs closely because we don’t know where the tiger will move,” said one of the forest officials cited in the first instance, asking not to be named.

The official added that it was the same tiger which attacked two journalists in Jaura Tehsil of Morena district in November 2022. Later, it moved towards Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan. In March, the tiger was spotted in Pohari village bordering Shivpuri and Sheopur district. Pohari is 25km from Palpur range of KNP where the cheetahs brought from Namibia and South Africa are kept in enclosure. Kuno has about 50 leopards.

MP chief wildlife warden JS Chauhan also confirmed the presence of tiger. “The movement of tigers from Ranthambore is not unusual as they have come to Kuno earlier also. We have not been able to trace the tiger but cheetahs are under our watch and are safe.”

Kuno park’s field director Uttam Sharma ruled out any danger to the cheetahs, saying that interaction between the two wildcats is “rare”.

“In April when Pawan (a cheetah that was earlier named Oban) entered the territory of three tigers in Madhav National Park, he sensed the risk and changed his direction. Cheetahs know how to protect themselves from other big cats. In Kuno, cheetahs have been living with leopards for months now,” he added.

Big cat experts, however, said there was no easy answer to the possibility of interaction between a cheetah and a tiger.

“Kuno National Park has seen the movement of male tigers many times but they never made it their territory. Cheetahs live mostly in open land with lions and hyenas but a tiger will be new for them. In an open land, cheetah can sense the risk. But in a thick forest, a tiger, which is an ambush hunter, will have an upper hand,” said Anish Andheria, CEO, Wildlife Conservation Trust.

As of now, Kuno National Park has three cheetahs in the wild and 19 in a 6 sq-km enclosure. All the cheetahs are geotagged. Two of the 24 cheetahs brought to India died due to different ailments in the past few months.

Namibia and South Africa, where the cheetahs have come from, do not have any tigers.

The government of India started the National Cheetah Translocation Project with an aim to reintroduce the cheetahs in wild, after they went extinct from the country in 1950. As part of the project, Kuno was selected as the first site for translocation of cheetahs from Africa, on basis of recommendation of a Supreme Court appointed expert panel. In two tranches, Kuno has received eight cheetahs from Namibia and 12 from South Africa, since September 17, 2022.

In India, the population of tiger is steadily rising since 2008, when first time a scientific method to count the felines was introduced in the country. From 1,114 tigers in 2008, the population has risen to 3,167 in 2022, according to the latest tiger estimation released in April 2023. The tiger population is rising on all landscapes except the Western Ghats.

Ranthambore is the third most congested tiger reserve in the country after Corbett in Uttarakhand and Kaziranga in Assam. According to a Rajasthan government estimate, the reserve has 81 tigers, an increase of 18 over the last two years. The state government has notified Mukundara Hills as tiger reserve to accommodate excess tigers from Ranthambore. It has also proposed to declare Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary as tiger reserve for Ranthambore tigers.

A senior Madhya Pradesh forest official aware of the development said they were monitoring the situation closely, and if the tiger poses a challenge to cheetahs in wild, it may be tranquilised. “Our past experience shows that tigers from Ranthambore return to their habitat and not even a single has made Kuno their home.”

Get Latest India News along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world

    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals