Tigress T21 transformed from man-eater to a caring mother
Tigress T21 transformed from man-eater to a caring mother

After recapturing the title of Tiger State after about a decade, the cherry in the cake for Madhya Pradesh, is the addition of 2 new members to the tiger family in Sanjay Tiger Reserve. The mother is no ordinary tigress, but a man-eater whose transformation to a caring mother is fascinating.

In 2018, two human casualties were reported in Katni forest division within the duration of one month. A female with two sub-adults was spotted moving in the area.

On 15th April 2018, a big rescue operation was launched by BTR (Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve) team and all three tigers were captured and shifted to Behara enclosure of Magdhi range.

The mother was shifted to Bathan enclosure of Tala range, as it was not suitable to release her back into the wild. She was later shifted to Van Vihar National Park, Bhopal.

The fate of two sub-adults was still in question. Behaviour of two sub-adult female siblings was studied and finally as per recommendations, it was decided to shift one sub-adult female to Satpura Tiger Reserve and another to Sanjay Tiger Reserve (Sanjay TR) from BTR.

On November 3, 2018, the sub-adult tigress named T21 was translocated from BTR to Sanjay TR. She was kept in Kanjara enclosure.

She was provided better opportunities to develop her skills that would allow her to survive in the wild, and not become a man-eater. Various training methods were attempted for the purpose.

Citing her behaviour, recommendations were submitted to CWLW (Chief Wildlife Warden) during his visit to Sanjay TR. CWLW gave permission to release her in the wild but with plan B in hand to recapture the tigress if she becomes problematic.

Finally on November 10, 2019, after 1 year in the enclosure, tigress T21 was radio-collared with GPS collar and released in the Budandol area of Pondi range of SanjayTR...

In the area, a tiger (SD022) which was brought from Kanha on Dec 10, 2018, awaited her. The love story began faster than imagined.

First marking her independence, tigress T21 showed her best skills in wild with frequent kills. In fact, she set a new record of the maximum number of wild kills till date.

Forest officials witnessed the blooming love of T21 and SD022 and the patrolling team often caught them mating.

With a hope to see the new family bloom, forest officials waited patiently. The wait was over on June 16, 2020 when forest staff reported spotting the cubs.

However, the management decided to wait for evidence and on July 27, 2020, the cubs were captured via camera trap picture. Just ahead of International Tiger Day, the picture of the new tiger family added a generation to the source population of Sanjay TR.

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Free Press Journal