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‘Walker’ covers over 3,000 km to zero in on his new home

The tiger, one of the three cubs born to a Tipeshwar tigress (T1), was radio-collared on February 27 last year as part of the "Studying dispersal of Tigers across Eastern Vidarbha landscape" project.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur | Updated: March 31, 2020 12:49:37 pm
The tiger, one of the three cubs born to a Tipeshwar tigress (T1), was radio-collared on February 27 last year as part of the “Studying dispersal of Tigers across Eastern Vidarbha landscape” project.

A male tiger from Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha has set a record by covering over 3,000 km before settling down in the Dnyanganga Wildlife Sanctuary in Buldana district.

Identified by wildlife officials as T1C1, the tiger’s marathon trek included several back and forth journeys from Tipeshwar to neighbouring Adilabad forest in Telangana and also to Painganga Sanctuary, and from Dnyanganga to Ajanta hills in Aurangabad.

“He has till date covered 3,020 km and has more or less settled down in Dnyanganga over the past about three months,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Nitin Kakodkar told The Indian Express.

A break-up of his trek showed that he has covered:  360 km around Tipeshwar, 1,475 km from Tipeshwar to Dnyanganga, and 1,185 km around Dnyanganga. This has earned him the moniker “Walker” from the forest officials.

The tiger, one of the three cubs born to a Tipeshwar tigress (T1), was radio-collared on February 27 last year as part of the “Studying dispersal of Tigers across Eastern Vidarbha landscape” project undertaken by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in tandem with the Forest Department.

The tiger had wire snares around his abdomen when he was caught by forest officials. However, his health improved after a month, and he had even started to walk. Till June 21, he was walking around Tipeshwar, Adilabad and Painganga before starting his long march to Dnyangangana, which he entered on December 5. Since then, he has settled down and is making extensive use of 52 sq km area of the sanctuary core, officials said.

A WII team headed by wildlife scientist Bilal Habib tracked ‘Walker’ at over 6,000 different GPS locations along its stupendous journey.

Aged about two years, the tiger had baffled wildlife experts as to why he hasn’t settled anywhere along his journey route. “He has walked many landscapes, including highways, rivers, agricultural lands and forests, betraying ability to avoid confrontation with humans. He has also been killing his natural preys. One of the possible reasons for his ceaseless walk could be search for mate. So, we have constituted a committee of experts that will decide if we should translocate a female for him to Dnyanganga. We will take a call  on the basis of the committee’s report,” Kakodkar said.

‘Walker’ may have settled down in Dnyanganga because of abundant prey availability and an unchallenged territory of his own, officials feel.

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