JAIPUR: It is baby boom time at Ranthambore National Park. After confirmation of tigress T-8 giving birth to two cubs last Saturday, it is now the turn of tigress T-19.
Reports are the tigress was spotted on Monday evening with a swollen mammary gland suggestng suckling cubs. Tigresses do not bring out their cubs in the open till they are about three to four months old and it is only after this they venture out with their mother.
"Last evening we were out on a tour and we spotted T-19. Her mammary glands were swollen though her stomach had not. All of us, including my jeep driver, concluded that she must have given birth to cubs recently," said tourism minister Bina Kak who is currently on a visit to the park.
In fact, even the cubs of T-8 were first spotted by some visitors who informed state forest department officials. In this case too officials were unable to throw any light. "It is only after we click the cubs along with their mother can we give any confirmation of birth. Currently we cannot say anything. Even in the case of T-8 it was only after we took a picture of the tigress with her cubs were we able to confirm the birth," the officials said.
In the absence of the cubs being photographed, not much was forthcoming on their numbers. However, even if just two cubs are born the count of newborns at the park since September 2010 will reach 16. "Among the tigresses who have given birth so far are T-5 which eventually died leaving behind the two newborns, tigresses T-13, T-31, T-8 with two cubs each and tigresses T-11 and T-26 with three cubs each," said R P Gupta, DFO, Ranthambore.
Officials are much elated over the births and feel this negates conservationists who have been crying foul on the move to relocate tigers from a breeding population to Sariska.
"It just so happened that there was a year when no births took place. But the very fact we have so many newborns this year suggest that the population of tigers have not been disturbed despite the fact that some of the tigers were relocated to Sariska," officials said.
However, along with the elation also came worries of a territorial fight when the cubs grow up. Ranthambore is already bursting at its seams with at least 31 tigers reported in the last census done by the Wildlife Institute of India ( WII). Cases of territorial fights and tigers straying outside the park are increasing.
The only hope seems to be a corridor between Ranthambore and the Mukundra hills that the state has planned and making other sanctuaries around more habitable for wild animals.