The Tigresses of Bhopal: A Reign Reclaimed (WATCH)

The Tigresses of Bhopal: A Reign Reclaimed (WATCH)

Five powerful tigresses and their seventeen cubs, have staked their claim within the city's very confines.

Rajendra SharmaUpdated: Saturday, May 11, 2024, 07:20 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Nestled within the cultural tapestry of India lies the city of Bhopal, a historical enclave brimming with tales of yore. Once adorned with the regal presence of formidable Begums, its streets now echo with a new tale of royalty – one of striped majesty prowling amidst urbanity.

After nearly a century, the Begums of Bhopal return, albeit in a form unforeseen. No longer human sovereigns, but rather, five powerful tigresses and their seventeen cubs, have staked their claim within the city's very confines. This resurgence of wild royalty marks a rare phenomenon, blending nature's grandeur with the hum of metropolitan life.

At the forefront of this remarkable tale stands Alok Pathak, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Bhopal, his voice resonating with a mix of pride and caution. "Five tigresses, each with three to five cubs, have established their realm in the outskirts, a sight unseen elsewhere in the world. Bhopalites are really fortunate," he remarks, encapsulating the awe-inspiring harmony between man and beast.

The allure of Bhopal as a sanctuary for these majestic creatures lies in its abundant prey and serene environment. Pathak elaborates, "The tigresses have found sanctuary amidst the urban hustle, drawn by the plentiful food sources and tranquil surroundings." Yet, amidst this spectacle of coexistence lies a sobering reality – the encroachment of civilization upon their ancient territories.

According to the Tiger Census released in the country in July 2023, there are a total 3,682 tigers in India by the year 2022. Of these, 785 tigers have been found in Madhya Pradesh alone. In this way, the Tiger State status of Madhya Pradesh remains intact.

Out of these 785 tigers, 222 tigers have been found roaming outside the protected areas of the National Parks. There are a total of 96 striped big cats within the 150 square km radius of Ratapani-Kheoni (Dewas) Sanctuary adjacent to Bhopal.

There are a total of 25 tigers and tigresses in the tiger range areas like Kerava, Kaliyasot, Mindori, and Kathotia adjacent to Bhopal. These include three tigers, five tigresses, and 17 cubs. These tigers keep roaming in the areas surrounding the sanctuary. The surprising thing is that Bhopal is the only city in the whole world where tigers are roaming within the municipal limits.

Tales abound of tigers venturing into college campuses, hostels, cow sheds near Kaliasot, evoking both fear and fascination among the populace. Forest officers recounts one such incident with poignant clarity, "The tiger's presence at MACT campus and Bhoj University sparked panic, yet remarkably, no harm came to pass."

Yet, as the tiger's realm intertwines with humanity's, concerns of conflict loom large. Forest officials, vigilant in their duty, contemplate strategies to monitor and manage this delicate balance. From radio collaring to fencing, measures are enacted to safeguard both tigers and citizens from potential harm.

The rapid urbanization of Bhopal's outskirts further exacerbates the plight of these majestic beasts. The encroachment of human settlements and overgrazing threaten to fragment their habitats, leaving them vulnerable to conflict and displacement. Ratapani Sanctuary, once a bastion of biodiversity, now teems with stray cattle, further exacerbating the tigers' plight.

Wild life enthusiasts urge the administration must act swiftly to preserve these vital habitats and prevent further conflict. Their words, a clarion call to action, resonate across the corridors of power, stirring a sense of urgency in the hearts of policymakers and conservationists alike.

As day fades into night in Bhopal, the city's pulse quickens, echoing with the silent tread of feline grace. The Begums of old may have faded into history's annals, but their legacy lives on in these tigresses – queens of an urban wilderness, reclaiming their rightful throne amidst the city's labyrinthine streets. And as the sun sets on another day in Bhopal, the promise of a new dawn – one where man and beast coexist in harmony – lingers on the horizon, a testament to the enduring power of nature's resilience.

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