For nearly a fortnight, Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) authorities are closely monitoring the movement of a male tiger heading towards Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve because if the animal reaches there, it will create history by retracing a lost corridor.
The distance between the two parks as the crow flies is about 120 kilometre. The big cats once prowled freely in the Panna-Bandhavgarh corridor, but a large swathe of it has now been lost due to fragmented habitat, agriculture and development.
Named P 212, the tiger had covered nearly 70 km from the southern boundary of the park at a fast clip before the recent rains slowed it down. The big cat is being tracked from a radio-collar.
The park authorities heaved a sigh of relief last week when it crossed a human settlement. Villagers were reportedly unhappy because elephants used by the monitoring party threatened crops and some wanted the feline to be recaptured. The authorities, however, managed to persuade them.
PTR director R S Murthy told The Indian Express that if everything goes well, the tiger could take a month to complete the journey. He said the park is neither guiding the tiger, nor interfering with its natural movements.
P212 is the same tiger that was bitten by a rabid dog, owned by one of the families that are yet to be moved out of the park, last year. Having completed the full course of anti-rabies shots, the tiger has recovered. The three-year-old was born in the park to a translocated tigress and is well protected in its present location. It has barely moved three km over last few days due to availability of water.
Sources said the park authorities would intervene only if there was crisis such the tiger being in danger having entered a human settlement.
A wildlife expert said connecting corridors were necessary for free movement of tigers, but the mining lobby was against such move.
Here is the story on the interaction between the rabid dog and the tiger
A rabid dog bit a tiger at the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh last week,an almost unheard-of occurrence that triggered panic among veterinary doctors and authorities at the park.
The tiger has been given two shots of anti-rabies vaccine,and is under watch. Park authorities were keeping their fingers crossed,but said that they expected the animal to survive.
The dog,belonging to one of the few families that remain to be relocated outside the park,charged at the tiger,a three-year-old male,in Hinauta range on September 10. A forest employee was able to photograph the dog facing the tiger.
The tiger did not react to the provocation,and turned to walk away from the dog. But the dog continued to charge at the massively bigger and stronger cat,and bit its tail. According to park sources,the irritated tiger then shoved the dog away with a tap to its neck,the force of which nonetheless flattened the dog and left it unconscious for half an hour.
After regaining consciousness,the dog bit a labourer the same night. Local villagers who had been watching the behaviour of the animal killed it the next day,deputy director of the Panna Tiger Reserve V S Parihar said.
Parihar said that tests on the dead dog had confirmed that it was suffering from rabies. The tiger has been kept under supervision, he said,without elaborating.
Dr AB Shrivastava,director of the Centre for Wildlife Forensics and Health,who recommended the treatment to the Panna authorities,said the full course of the vaccination will have to be administered to the big cat according to the prescribed schedule. He said the disease has a long incubation period,and there is no alternative to vaccination.
Both Shrivastava and Parihar said the tiger will live.
more good news from Panna Tiger relocation
From zero tigers in early 2009,the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh now faces a problem of plenty. The number of tigers at the reserve was 23 at last count,including the five that were initially shifted from other reserves.
The park authorities are now worried about a skewed sex ratio because males far outnumber the females. According to R S Murthy,director,Panna Tiger Reserve,two tigresses will soon be shifted from other reserves to improve the ratio. Moreover,some of the males may be shifted out of Panna to other reserves,although the dates are yet to be finalised.
Meanwhile,the authorities are yet to determine the sex of seven cubs born recently.
When the relocation programme began in 2009,many doubts were raised about its success. Four years later,the exercise is being seen as the most successful experiment ever.
Of the founder population,four were females (T1,T2,T4,T5) and one male (T3). Nine of their progeny are males and two females. Two males from the first litter of T1 have already established their territories in the park,while T2 and T4 gave birth to their third litter recently. Efforts to collar P 412,P 421 and P 422 have not succeeded because the cats are underage.
Meanwhile,the condition of P 212,the tiger that was bitten by a rabid dog,is stable. The tiger has completed its dose of anti-rabies shots,but it is still being monitored.