Ranthambhore Census: Focus on Missing tigers
The sanctuary embarked on its census on Saturday which would see the trap camera method being deployed for a count of tigers along with the transit line survey for herbivores and finally the water hole census for other wild animals.
According to conservation biologists and a member of Tiger Watch Dharmendra Khandal, there are at least five tigers missing from the park for a long time. These are T-21 or the Chiroli male, T-27 or the Gilai Sagar female, T-29 of Berda, T-40 or the Berda male and T-43 the second Jhailkho male cub.
“T-21 is the same male tiger of Chiroli that the state forest department had planned to relocate to Sariska. Even his DNA samples had been tested and he was found suitable for relocation. But then at the last moment just before the relocation he went missing and has not been seen by visitors or officials,” says Khandal.
Also missing are T-27 or the Gilai Sagar female and T-29 or the shy male of Berda in zone 4. Incidentally, he had been treated for injuries that she had perhaps sustained in a fight with T-5 or the Kachida female but after that, he has been missing. Reports are that he was darted for the treatment but the forest authorities could not catch her and he went missing with the dart.
In a detailed report prepared by Khandal, the conservation biologists have traced all the 47 tigers that had been population the Ranthambore sanctuary. According to his estimates at present, there are 26 tigers that are populating the reserve with six of them having made the Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary their home.
Three tigers have migrated from the reserve to other areas. They are T-35, a female, is at Kota, T-38 or the Sultanpur male has migrated to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh while T-47 has made Dholpur his home. Seven tigers died due to various reasons in the park while six were located in Sariska national park.
According to Khandal, there are 26 tigers at the reserve excluding 14 other cubs that have been spotted in the past year. He however substantiates the count of 31 tigers as per the census by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2010. This is the figure that was placed for a tiger count in the country in the recently concluded meeting at Delhi. However, since that census, there were quite a few tigers that have migrated or died resulting in the current count of 26 at the reserve.
Officials of the department neither agreed nor disputed Khandal’s claim but estimated the total count of tigers at the Ranthambore reserve to be around 40 tigers including the 14 newborns.