Rajasthan Minister for Forests & Environment Bina Kak played agony aunt the other day to young tigress T 17 in Ranthambhore National Park by ordering removal of a radio collar from its neck.
T 17, daughter of the illustrious tigress Machchli, who was also known as the Lady of the Lake, was carrying this burden for about two years without any reason as the instrument was non-functional.
The young tigress, who is yet to deliver a litter, was sedated by a team from the Wildlife Institute of India somewhere near the Lakarda chowki in Ranthambhore soon after Ms. Kak, who happened to spot the feline in the area, informed them of its location.
“It took less than 30 minutes altogether for the entire operation and the animal was up and about soon when were standing there watching,” said Ms. Kak, who took over as Forest Minister in the Cabinet reshuffle last week along with her existing Tourism portfolio, talking to The Hindu from Ranthambhore.
While the radio-collaring of tigers in Ranthambhore is part of ongoing scientific studies, it also helps keep track of tigers in the park that are prone to wandering out. Ms. Kak felt the presence of the collar could have been the reason behind T 17 not mating. T 19, a sibling of T 17, gave birth to three cubs some six months ago, while another sibling, T 18, is now in Sariska after it was re-located from Ranthambhore some time back.
“As such, the collar weighs between 1.5 kg to 2 kg, and there was no point in keeping it around the poor animal's neck like a dead albatross,” said Ms. Kak, who had been advocating removal of the contraption for sometime. “Mating tigers play with the neck portion, and I have a feeling that the presence of the collar did not facilitate proper mating in the case of T 17.”
Though one cannot be sure about the collar — or not having the collar — affecting the fecundity of the felines, the booming tourism industry in Ranthambhore making a living by selling (the sightings of) the wild tigers to the outside world would be very happy about T 17 getting denuded of the collar as they could again boast of showing a “pristine” tigress in the wild to wide-eyed visitors!