Published Apr 3, 2016
The study will look at terrain aspects, the availability of prey and the number of big cats already in that reserve.
Bandipur: Once a tiger has pissed on a tree, marked a trail with scat and clawed the ground, the big cat expects no one to mess with his kingdom – not even another tiger. Every once in a while, though, another big cat does break the rule, and things get really ugly. As it did last week in Bandipur Tiger Reserve’s (BTR) Hediyala Range, where a large one, about 10 years old, was found dead – the result of a territorial fight with another tiger, according to Forest officials.
Bandipur could well witness frequent and fatal tiger-tiger conflicts, ironically as a result of the success of Project Tiger. There are currently 110 tigers – or 109, after last week’s death – in Bandipur Reserve, spread over about 1,000 square kilometres. But a tiger’s writ typically runs over 60 to 100 sqkm. Even if the big cats learned – like humans – to live cheek-by-jowl, the Bandipur Reserve can be home to only 40-50 of these ferocious animals, not 110 of them!
Which is why, the Forest department wants to shift several of them out of Bandipur. Chief Conservator of Forests and Director of BTR Mallesh told Deccan Chronicle that there is also the danger of human tiger conflicts going up if tigers that are driven out of the forests by other tigers stray into human habitats.
Mr. Mallesh is mindful, however, that relocating tigers is tricky business, and one that conservationists will keep a close watch on. “Reintroduction of tigers from Bandipur can be taken up only after a study of potential reserves where they can be shifted. The study will look at terrain aspects, the availability of prey and the number of big cats already in that reserve.”
When you are dealing with the king of the Karnataka jungle, though, protocol dictates that only the Prime Minister — who heads the National Tiger Conservation Authority — can decide matters.