Four years after a tigress from Ranthambhore was introduced into the reserve

The Sariska Tiger Reserve’s jinx appears to be over. After an anxious wait of four long years, a tigress has given birth to at least two cubs. The first photo of the mother, ST 2, and one of her cubs — the reserve staff thinks there could be more than one — was clicked by the trap camera near the Slopka area in the Sariska range.

Perhaps never in the annals of conservation history in India was the birth of an animal offspring awaited with so much expectation and excitement — if not apprehension, considering the high stakes involved in the re-introduction of tigers in the Sariska wild.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Rajasthan’s Ranthambhore National Park to decide on the strong measures to be taken for protection of the country’s tigers after the disappearance of all the wild cats from Sariska in 2004-2005.

“This is great news for the conservation community in Rajasthan and elsewhere. The birth of the cub should be termed a new lease of life for Sariska,” said Rajasthan Minister for Forest and Environment Bina Kak talking to The Hindu. Ms. Kak, an avid wildlife photographer herself, had been sending SMS and e-mails to her friends and conservationists ever since she received the trap camera clip from the Sariska officials at dawn on Wednesday.

ST 2, flown by an Indian Air Force helicopter from Ranthambhore to Sariska on July 4, 2008, was the first tigress to join the reserve in Alwar district. Thereafter two more tigresses were introduced — in February 2009 and July 2010. While the first tiger released in Sariska on June 28, 2008 was found dead over a year back, there are two males in the reserve now.

“Perhaps the onus was more on this female feline as she was the first to come. Let us also hope that the remaining tigresses follow suit,” Sariska’s Field Director Raghuveer Singh Shekhawat said on phone.