A DOUBLE-EDGED BLESSING?
From no tigers in 2009 to a saturation point where it can no longer support its tiger population, the Panna Tiger Reserve has come a long way in the intervening eight years. The 542 square kilometre expanse of forest is currently home to more than 30 tigers, a habitat under threat from the proposed Ken Betwa river link project. Tigers brought into the reserve as part of a source population, under the reintroduction programme initiated in 2009, have bred among themselves and reached these numbers.
Another conservation milestone was attained last week when Panna reported the birth of a third generation of tigers. Two tiger cubs were sighted in the Sarbhanga forests of Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, 125 km from the Panna reserve. The cubs, aged about five months, are said to be the offspring of a tigress from the Panna reserve assigned the call sign P213-22 and a tiger from the reserve who’d made the Sarbhanga forests their home. “The tigers in Chitrakoot are from the F2 generation. The birth of an F3 generation implies that a meta-population (distinct from the source population) is taking shape elsewhere in the landscape away from the area of the reserve. This is a good sign,” said R. Sriniwas Murthy, former field director of Panna Tiger Reserve.
Wildlife experts point out that tigers do wander out of their territories, but the moving out of a tigress from a territory it has grown up in suggests the habitat has reached saturation in terms of tiger numbers. Tigress P21322 moved out of Panna to the Sarbhanga forests in 2015.
AT HOME A big cat inside the Panna Tiger Reserve