A tiger that walked across three districts from Ranthambore to Mukundara Tiger Reserve in search of its mate, died on Thursday under mysterious circumstances. The carcass of MT3 was found on Thursday morning close to the enclosure where his mate was being held. He was just six years old and in the prime of his life.
MT3 had reportedly been injured while hunting a blue bull (Neelgai) and had been limping for the last several days. A team had been sent for his treatment two days ago, but the tiger died before he could be treated. A post-mortem showed cardio shock along with lung infection as the possible reasons of death. But the forest department could not give any reason for the lung infection and a foot injury could not be reason enough to cause the death of a tiger.
MT3, earlier called T98, was the offspring of tigress T60 and was born in Ranthambore. Tiger lovers fondly speak of the love story between tiger MT3 and tigress MT2. The two inhabited the same area of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, with tigress MT2 known as T106. There was mutual affection observed between the two.
However, around a year-and-a-half ago, two tigers were relocated from Ranthambore to the newly established Mukundara Tiger Reserve, with T106 (now MT2) being one of them. T98 had exhibited aggressive behaviour after she was relocated and had attacked a woman then.
Unknown to the forest department, the lonely T98 had then set off on a trek spanning 150 kilometres, crossing three districts and the river Kali Sindh, in search of his mate. The forest department learnt of his presence in the Darra area of Mukundara Tiger Reserve only when he was captured on a photo trap camera.
However, authorities have been unable to comprehend how he made his way to the exact spot where the tigress had been relocated. How he managed to reach right outside the enclosure where MT2 was being held is another mystery. Such tiger behaviour has never been documented.
When the forest department saw him in the photo trap picture, they were shocked. Apprehensive about his presence, they had kept MT1 (aka T91), the new mate of MT2 in an enclosure as a safety measure.
Sadly for MT3, his story remained one of unrequited love because the trek to Mukundara proved too much for him. By then MT2 (aka T106) had formed a pair with MT1, who had been relocated to Mukundara. The two had subsequently mated and recently produced cubs.