Other States

Six tigers ‘missing’ in Ranthambore

Six tigers — four adults and two sub-adults — have been unaccounted for since March 2020 in the Ranthambore tiger sanctuary, Rajasthan. However, State forest officials are not willing to label them “missing” and denied reports that they may have been poached.

Independent wildlife groups such as Tiger Watch have alleged that the tigers have been missing for over a year and that “negative human intervention being a cause [poaching]” could not be ruled out.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority, a wing of the Union Environment Ministry, has constituted a committee to ascertain the disappearance of the tigers. R.P. Gupta, Secretary, Environment Ministry, said while a report was still awaited from the State, it was not unusual for tigers to move outside the reserve — even as far as Mathura, Uttar Pradesh; Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Dati in Madhya Pradesh — but they have not ruled out other causes.

There have been no camera trap images of the six creatures since March, T.C. Verma, Chief Conservator of Forests, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu. Ranthambore’s estimated 70 tigers exceeded its carrying capacity, he said, and newer tigers were driving out older ones and so the tigers had possibly branched out of their territories.

Qamar Qureshi, scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, said the disappearance of tigers was a cause for concern. “The details are sketchy but generally established adults don’t venture very far. So if it is this category of tigers and so far not captured on camera, then there is cause for concern. Also the particular territories in Ranthambore are notorious for poaching,” he told The Hindu.

The Ranthambore Reserve is the only source of tigers in the territory with about 53 tigers constituting over 90% of the population in this block, as per the latest census made public last year.

The Ranthambore forest reserve consists of highly fragmented forest patches, ravines, river streams, and agricultural land. The Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is connected to the Kuno-Palpur landscape in Madhya Pradesh through parts of the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary, the ravine habitats of Chambal and the forest patches of Sheopur. Tributaries of river Chambal provide easy passage for tigers to move towards the Kuno National Park.

India has 2,967 tigers, a third more than in 2014, according to results of a census made public on July 29 last year. Ranthambore, according to this exercise, had 55 tigers.

Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442). Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw an increase.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 1:29:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/six-tigers-missing-in-ranthambore/article34111892.ece

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