Confusion over count of tigers on prowl as pug marks spotted in Bharatpur

JAIPUR: There could be more than one tiger on the prowl in Rajasthan and neighbouring states from the Ranthambore National Park. The suspicion came after forest officials on Sunday discovered the carcass of a blue bull in Bharatpur. On a closer examination, not only tiger pug marks were discovered from the place, the kill resembled that by a tiger.

Adding to the confusion about the number of tigers out of Ranthambore park is the reported sighting of fresh tiger pug marks in Madhya Pradesh close to Dholpur border. The discovery of the pug marks in Madhya Pradesh has forced authorities to think that the tiger spotted in Mathura was not Mohan' as believed earlier. Mohan has strayed away from Ranthambore about six months back.

"What seems now is that a second tiger had strayed away from Ranthambore sanctuary through Ganteshwarkho to Kailadevi to Band Baretha in Bharatpur and then to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. This could be the tiger that had attacked ranger Daulat Singh Shaktawat on August 20 on the periphery of Ranthambore. After the attack, no effort was made to reign it in the sanctuary. This tiger, after migrating to Bharatpur may have sneaked into Mathura, travelling through the dense Bajra fields. But there is no certainty on this unless we get a picture of the tiger at Bharatpur," said Rajpal Singh, member, state wildlife board.

To end the confusion, forest officials have now fixed camera traps in and around Bharatpur where the carcass was discovered. "We have pictures of all the tigers in Ranthambore. Only after getting a picture of the tiger in Bharatpur through the trap camera that will we will be certain if this is Mohan or the one that was present near the Mathura refinery was or if it is a third tiger on the prowl," he added.

Meanwhile, efforts of a joint team of forest officials from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and a team from the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun had failed to track the tiger in Mathura and with no reports of any fresh attacks from Mathura, it is being assumed that the Mathura tiger is on its way back to Ranthambore.

When contacted, RS Shekhawat, DFO, Ranthambore said that pug marks of Mohan has been traced in Madhya Pradesh. "This seems a second tiger that had made into Mathura from Ranthambore and is now at Bharatpur," he said. Shekhawat was also part of the team from Rajasthan that was tracking the tiger in Mathura. However, the DFO could not clarify whether a third tiger has strayed away from the sanctuary.

"It is very difficult to maintain a daily count of tigers in any sanctuary. Sometimes it may be months before it is discovered that a tiger has strayed away from a sanctuary," said an official.


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