In August,a three-year-old walked 100 km,crossed National Highway 6,one of Indias busiest corridors,waded through Vidarbhas biggest river Wainganga,then in spate,and made his way to a forest on the other side. All Jay,originally of Gondia districts Nagzira wildlife sanctuary,was looking for was a mate.
He wasnt the only one driven 100 km out of Nagzira in search of a companion . The sanctuarys skewed male-female ratio saw a similar young male tiger,Aayaat,migrate to Balaghat district in February.
Nagzira had six male and two female tigers. Aayaat migrated in February. One of the tigresses now is about 13 years old and is Jays mother. The other is also older than 10 years. Both may stop giving litters soon. Currently,the other tigress is moving with cubs and isnt available for mating. So where does Jay go if not to a place like Pavni? reasons Gondia honorary wildlife warden Savan Bahekar.
A senior activist says another Nagzira tiger,Rashtrapati,is missing,leaving it with just five tigers. On the contrary,the 180-sq-km Umred-Karandla (adjoining Pavni) now has nine.
This is bad news for Nagzira. It faces a Panna-like crisis of lopsided male-female ratio,which was one of the causes for decimation of tigers in the Madhya Pradesh reserve, the activist adds.
Used to tourists in Nagzira,Jay apparently had no trouble with the human beings he ran into on his trek to Pavni. Conservationists talk of stunned villagers spotting him audaciously squatting on the road or indifferently dodging human traffic.
From all accounts,he has settled in nicely too. A very hefty tiger,he has chucked out a resident male tiger, says Nagpur honorary wildlife warden Rohit Karu. He is now lording over about 70 sq km. Officials are worried though that he has been killing cattle,over 20 so far,because of the thin prey base.
But as goes the matter of the mates,all is well. He has perhaps mated with one of the two tigresses in the area, says Karu.