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Monday, April 10, 2017

Queen of Pench - Collarwali - incredibly fertile Tigress - mother of 26 cubs !!

In every Zoo they would be the prime attraction – the  largest of all the Asian big cats, ‘Tigers’ -  rely primarily on sight and sound rather than smell. They typically hunt alone and stalk prey. A tiger can consume up to 88 pounds of meat at one time. On average, tigers give birth to two or three cubs every two years. If all the cubs in one litter die, a second litter may be produced within five months.Tigers have been known to reach the age of 26 years in the wild.
Tiger taken at Nandan Kanan zoo by me

   Sometime back, a BBC film crew attached cameras to elephants to shoot remarkable footage of tigers for its  natural history series - Tiger - Spy in the Jungle, a three-part documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough,  which was about the day-to-day lives of four cubs in the Pench National Park in central India.  The film makers ingenuous plan of fixing cameras to the tusks and trunks of trained working elephants brought out  a new intimacy to the genre.

   Back home, the Pench River is a tributary of the Kanhan River, originating in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh and flowing across Pench National Park, which is a reserve for the Tiger Project of India.The two big dams of the Pench River supply water to the city of Nagpur and to the big thermal power plant located there.The river separates Pench National Park into two halves, east and west Pench. Pench National Park or Tiger Reserve is one of the premier tiger reserves of India and the only one to straddle across two states - Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The portion of the reserve that is in Madhya Pradesh is nestled in the southern slopes of the Satpura range of Central India. The reserve  derives its name from its life line-the River Pench. Inside the park, the river flows from North to South before going on to join the Kanhan River, while splitting the Park into two, and forming the boundary of Seoni District and Chhindwara District districts of Madhya Pradesh.  The Pench reserve is considered  most prime and critical tiger habitat remaining in central India.

The reserve and more importantly, a Tiger by name Collarwali is in news ! – TOI states that you could call her a super mom. `Collarwali', an incredibly fertile tigress at MP's Pench Tiger Reserve nicknamed by visitors because of her radio collar, has given birth to four more cubs.This is her seventh litter and she has so far mothered an amazing 26 cubs -a record for any tigress in Madhya Pradesh. The latest litter is a boost to the tiger introduction programme in the state that has lost 35 tigers in the last few months, say wildlife experts. “The patrol team found four cubs a few weeks ago.They are all very small but in good health. It's a good sign for our conservation efforts,“ said SubhranjanSen, field director of the reserve. Sen confirmed that this was Collarwali's seventh litter.

Referred to as `Queen of Pench' and `Pench princess', Collarwali was one of the four cubs of famous tigress `Barimada', who was featured in the famous documentary titled `Spy in the Jungle' by BBC network. She was also the first of Barimada's cubs to establish her territory in the core area of her mother's range, experts said.  She was sired by Tiger T-1, also known as Charger.  The tigress littered three beautiful cubs for the first time in May 2008. But, as an inexperienced mother, she could not protect them from the harsh climate.All three cubs died of pneumonia within 24 days, recalls a forest officer.In October 2008, she produced her second litter ¬ four cubs including three males.All survived. Experts claim she has used 13 different sites to rear her three litters and most of the times it was caves.
       Thus, the 13-year-old Royal Bengal tigress has set a record of sorts by begetting 26 cubs since 2008 in Madhya Pradesh’s Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR),  becoming the cynosure of all eyes as tourists flock in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the majestic beast.“Royal Bengal Tigress T-15, popularly known as ‘Collar Wali’ (one with a collar),  was the first tigress to be radio collared in PTR for tracking her movements, though her radio collar is defunct now. 

Interesting. !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

10th Apr 2017.

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