Other States

Study finds genetic evidence of tiger movement from Ranthambore

A tiger cools itself in a pond in Ranthambore National Park. File photo.

A tiger cools itself in a pond in Ranthambore National Park. File photo.  

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Highlighting the problem of man-animal conflict and the need to step up conservation efforts, a new study has found genetic evidence of migration of tigers from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) to long distances of over 200 km through hostile terrains in search of new territories.

The study through DNA analysis of faecal samples determined tigers' presence in Madhav National Park and Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS) and established the genetic connectivity between them and the big cats in RTR.

Led by S. Shivaji, in-charge of the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), the study was the first attempt to establish movement of tigers across a fragmented landscape based on non-invasively obtained genetic data. It was found that six tigers had migrated from Ranthambore to Madhav National Park. Interestingly, three of them belonged to the present generation.

However, there was no evidence of the first generation migration that could be traced back to Ranthambore implying that the RTR might have reached its full carrying capacity resulting in young animals to be forced out to move to new territories.

Noting that the RTR was located in an extremely tiger-hostile landscape, the study pointed out that substantial efforts made to manage and protect the reserve have ensured that the tigers persist today.

P. Anuradha Reddy, one of the scientists involved in the study, said that in the past, tigers used to move long-distances, to breed and maintain healthy genetic diversity among its populations. She emphasised that the RTR needed well-protected dispersal corridors to other forests to ensure tiger movements and prevent loss of genetic diversity due to inbreeding. Unless adequately protected from human pressures, the tigers would get trapped in isolated protect reserves and will face the threat of extinction in the long-term.

She said that absence of such corridors could not only lead to more man-tiger conflicts but also conflicts among the big cats fighting for territory.

Another study by the CCMB scientists highlighted the potential of Sathyamangalam as a tiger habitat. It recommended that the reserve forest to the north of Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary be declared as a tiger reserve. Proper protection of Sathyamangalam will go a long way in saving the entire landscape as well as the tigers of the Western Ghats.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:26:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/study-finds-genetic-evidence-of-tiger-movement-from-ranthambore/article2985489.ece

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