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Panna tiger retraces historic route


According to reports inThe Indian Express this week for nearly two weeks, Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) authorities have been closely monitoring the movement of a male tiger heading towards Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. If the animal reaches the reserve, 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 placate 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 last year, owned by one of the families that are yet to be moved out of the park. 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 the last few days due to the 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.

TigerTime campaign mananger, Vicky Flynn, who saw the last native tiger in Panna before they were confrimed to be extinct there is 2009 says: “The re-introduction programme is clearly working in Panna and the young male is now striking out to seek his own territory, his own mate. The importance of the wildlife corridors for the movement of tigers is vital for the genetic diversity and long-term survival of the species and it will be interesting to see what P212 does next.”

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