Save the Tigers! Panna Tiger Reserve struggles with big cat overpopulation

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Panna Tiger Reserve or PTR is located around the Bundelkhand region. It is now facing the problem of overpopulation. Tigers are not simply going out of the core area and into the buffer zone. Many of them are travelling further away.

In Uttar Pradesh’s Hamirpur, a tiger was spotted on November 22. People believe that it has come from PTR but forest officials are waiting for a confirmation before making an official claim. Their U.P counterparts, on the other hand, believe that they have come from PTR only.

Panna Tiger Reserve is based across Panna and Chhatarpur districts. It covers 576 sq km area. The population of tigers in PTR at the present has reached 55 in numbers with the addition of the recently born cubs. The reintroduced tigers along with their offsprings have littered 35 times. Seven tigers in total were reintroduced from other reserves. Two of them were males.

Earlier, it took a long period of time for forest authorities to admit that Panna had lost its tiger population. In 2009, they made a public admission about the same. Two tigresses were relocated from Bandhavgarh and Kanha in March 2009.

The decision to reintroduce tigers from other reserves to PTR was thus taken. In August 2009, a formal reintroduction programme was also formulated with the Wildlife Institute of India’s technical inputs. On December 6, T3 – a male tiger was shifted from Pench to PTR. It later travelled outwards to the south and was brought back via tranquillisation on December 25.

The first litter of cubs delivered in PTR were due to successful monitoring, timely managerial interventions and increased security from T1 on April 16, 2010, according to former park director RS Murthy. Murthy further calls the park a success story of tigers and its people. He doesn’t wish to call it even a problem of aplenty. Murthy now additional PCCF and Member-Secretary of MP Biodiversity Board, told IE that people who were against tigers earlier now want to save the reserve.

Field director, KS Bhadoriya confirmed the arrival of new cubs and admitted that tigers are going out of protected areas which is proving to be a challenge. The success of reintroducing tigers in PTR has inspired forest official to try the method in other reserves across the country.