Article: A world without boundaries

  • April 24, 2017

Tigers, like most wild animals, have no concept of boundaries. For thousands of years they have moved across the planet’s landscapes seeking food, shelter and new territories. For many, their migratory routes are dictated by the seasons and the ebb and flow of major rivers, and this is especially true of the tigers that we work to protect in Assam.

The Brahmaputra River, one of the major rivers of South Asia, originates in the Angsi glacier and flows through China and southern Tibet before breaking through the Himalaya’s in great gorges to enter India in Arunachal Pradesh. It then passes through Assam, forming the northern boundary of Kaziranga National Park before reaching Bangladesh and emptying into the Bay of Bengal. On its journey it connects a series of important tiger populations in Assam and dictates the movement of the species.

During the dry season, tigers grow fat on the alluvial flood plains in Kaziranga where prey is plenty and, when the floods come, they with many other species, move to the safety of higher ground. Being a good swimmer is an important skill for a Bengal tiger in Assam.

River crossings

Studies mapping the migratory routes of Assam’s tigers continue and there is evidence that the mighty Brahmaputra holds little fear for them. Research shows that tigers not only swim across the river (which is six miles wide in places) but also use the many river islands as stepping stones in their passage to the opposite bank.

This movement of tigers is vital for big cat survival; as they reach the age of two cubs usually disperse in search of territories and mates of their own – a dispersal that helps ensure that their DNA stays robust by breeding away from close family. Protecting these migratory routes and wildlife corridors is, therefore, as important as protecting the parks themselves if a sustainable, healthy population of tigers is to breed.

On the far side of the Brahmaputra, 114km northwest of Kaziranga by car, lies Orang National Park which became India’s 49th Tiger Reserve in 2016. And there’s good news from Orang as recent studies look likely to herald the park as having the highest density of tigers in India, surpassing the record once held by its larger neighbour, Kaziranga.

Thriving populations

That tiger populations in this area continue to thrive is thanks in part to your support which helps fund our work across this region’s important tiger landscape that embraces Kaziranga, Orang and Manas National Park a further 200km downstream.

With growing pressure from human activities around the national parks maintaining the tigers migratory routes is vital and forms a key part in the education and conservation programmes that we fund. And, during the seasonal floods, it is your support that helps provide extra staff and volunteers to work around the clock to ensure the safe passage of wildlife, including tigers, from the parks to higher ground.

With many animals having to cross busy roads, maintaining road blocks and speed reduction programmes while also keeping a vigil for poachers who take advantage of the animals’ use of traditional exit paths from the parks, is also key.

In a world with so many man-made boundaries we’d like to thank you again for helping us maintain the connectivity that is so vital to tiger survival.

Please help us to continue this vital work by donating here

For more about our work to save wild tigers see: