Highly sensitive motion sensing cameras are on the big cat’s trail in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), Kishanpur sanctuary and Pilibhit forest range in Uttar Pradesh. Lately, some tigers have shown an inclination to move eastward into the forests of neighbouring Uttarakhand.

A tigress with her three cubs had spent about three weeks in January in the jungles near Khatima in Uttarakhand, before returning due to some “disturbances” in the area.

She is presently positioned in the forests in Amaria development block on the banks of the Devaha river near Surajpur and Kishanpur villages on the State’s border with Uttarakhand.

Rameshwar Rai, Divisional Forest Officer, Pilibhit, confirmed the feline’s movement to Surai forests in Uttarakhand from the Mahof jungles in Pilibhit district and said since then she had returned to Uttar Pradesh.

The movement of the tigress and her cubs is on close watch. She is said to be stationed in her present location for about four months. Apart from the motion sensing cameras, special teams have been constituted to track her movements. Two elephants from the Dudhwa National Park have also been pressed into service for assisting the forest officials in the tracking exercise.

According to the latest tiger census figures, the number of tigers in Pilibhit is 34 and 180 overall in the DTR. About 300 cameras housed in secure boxes have been installed in Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary in Bahraich district, DTR and Kishanpur forest range in Pilibhit. The World Wildlife Fund exercise is aimed at mapping the movement of the tiger and its population density. The State forest officials said the signs are encouraging and the tigers’ number will increase by the next census in 2014.

“Installed with specific design”

“The cameras have been installed with a specific design and with hi-tech inputs we have been able to do things better. The tiger is a long range animal known for its movement and it’s for the first time that it has been brought in the public domain,” said Rupak De, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden of Uttar Pradesh.

These cameras are highly sensitive and anyone in their range, even humans, are bound to get captured. Mr. De, who sighted four tigers in Dudhwa on Sunday, said the tigers’ location trapped by the cameras is not revealed to deter human movement in the area. According to him, the tiger population in Dudhwa in the last census was 180.

Usual phenomenon

Despite the State’s forest officials’ concern that the tiger population is dwindling in Dudhwa and Pilibhit following their eastward movement, the tale of the tigress and her cubs is being considered as a usual phenomenon as tigers are known to roam freely.

The Mahof-Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh) -Surahi range (Uttarakhand) covers about 25 km and the tigers are known to move around.

The “Terai Arc Landscape” extending from Corbett National Park (Uttarakhand) in the east to Suhagi Barwa in Uttar Pradesh in the west is home to the tiger. “For two years, cubs live with their mother and later they start living on their own with the males first creating new territory for which they can travel long distances,” said Mr. De.

A male tiger, aged about two and half years, trekked from Dudhwa up to Rehmankheda on the fringe of Lucknow in 2012 and stayed for about two months before being caught and sent to its original home. This is cited as an example of the tigers’ long walk.

Tracking the movement of the “disbursing” liberated male tigers presented a challenge to the authorities.