For nearly a fortnight, Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) authorities are closely monitoring the movement of a male tiger heading towards Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve because if the animal reaches there, 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 persuade 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, owned by one of the families that are yet to be moved out of the park, last year. 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 last few days due to 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.
A wildlife expert said connecting corridors were necessary for free movement of tigers, but the mining lobby was against such move.
BJP leaders Prabhat Jha, Shahnawaz Hussain and Krishnapal Gujar also addressed a number of rallies.