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Traveling Tiger Establishes Connectivity Between Bor and Amravati

Traveling Tiger Establishes Connectivity Between Bor and Amravati

By scouring through camera-trap images, forest officials have ascertained the identity of a ‘mystery’ tiger in the forests of Amravati. His origins? A tiger reserve that lies over 100 km. away.

The tigress was first captured on camera-trap, along with her family, as a cub in the Bor Tiger Reserve. Photo: CCF, Pench Tiger Reserve.

With a marathon 100 km. journey from the Bor Tiger Reserve to the Malkhed-Pohara Forest Range of Amravati, a wild tiger has established beyond doubt that a corridor exists between these two forests.

The three-year-old big cat was born in 2013 to the tigress known as T1 in the Pendhari and Navegaon Beat of the Bor Tiger Reserve. As a four-month-old cub, he was camera-trapped, along with his mother and siblings. Subsequently, these images were entered into the repository of camera trap images of tigers maintained by the forest department of Bor. Two years later, in March 2015, a young tiger was caught on camera-trap in the Amravati Territorial Forest Range that lies 100 km. from Bor as the crow flies. This was the first real evidence of tiger presence in these forests, and was shortly followed by a direct sighting.

As forest officials in Amravati began to ponder the origins of the new cat in their midst, Uttam Sawant, the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Selu Unit, Bor Tiger Reserve, acted on a hunch and started the laborious task of manually matching the stripes of the tiger photographed in Amravati with those of the tigers in the Bor database. Individual tigers have unique stripe patterns, and if he could find a match, the identity of the mystery tiger could be ascertained. His efforts paid dividends, and he was able to match the stripes of the tiger with those of one of T1’s cubs, which was photographed all those months ago.

The stripe pattern of the tigress captured on camera-trap in Amravati match those of the cub photographed in Bor, thus confirming her identity. Photo: CCF, Amravati Forest Circle, Territorial.

Male tigers are known to disperse far and wide from their natal homes. There’s a stark possibility that this young cat travelled close to 150 km. to reach Malkhed-Pohara Forest Division, as he is unlikely to have moved in a straight line. Having reached as far as Malkhed-Pohara, it is also entirely possible that the tiger will find his way to the Melghat Tiger Reserve that lies in the very same Amravati District.

Taking note of the tiger’s westward migration, M.S. Reddy, Chief Conservator of Forests, Maharashtra, has written to numerous authorities urging for the better conservation and protection of the forest corridor that evidently exists between Bor TR and Malkhed-Pohara. If anything, the story of the travelling tiger illustrates the urgent need to prioritize the conservation of forests outside of Protected Areas, many of which continue to provide tenuous links and corridors between notified forests.

Author: Cara Tejpal.


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