3 years later, big cats on prowl in Panna Reserve again

The Panna Tiger Reserve was frustrated in December 2009 when a male tiger brought from Pench went missing putting a question mark on the ambitious project to reintroduce the big cat.

The park had lost all its tigers by January that year and the two females shifted in March did not conceive because the male, brought in November, showed no interest in them, and instead displayed an unusual homing instinct by traveling in southern direction where Pench is located.

The T3 was finally captured and again released in the park on December 26. By then the homesick male had covered almost 450 km during the month that he was away from Panna.

Three years on, the park management is quietly celebrating the date of T3's re-release that made Panna's reintroduction project the most successful in recent times.

The park today has 18 cats, including 13 born there since April 2010, when T1 (the first tigress shifted from Bandhavgarh) delivered her first litter. T2 (the second tigress moved from Kanha) delivered her first litter in October that year.

The project reported another success in tiger conservation history when T4, a hand-reared tigress (her mother had been killed in Kanha), also produced her first litter in 2011. T4's sibling was also shifted to Panna in September 2011.

As of now all the local progeny has been fathered by T3. Under the project, one more male is to be shifted to Panna.

"We wanted to give the local progeny time to adjust themselves,'' Panna Field Director R Sreenivasa told The Indian Express.

He said the management attaches special importance to December 26. To mark the experiment's third anniversary, the management has decided to throw open the tented accommodation in Hinauta tourism area from January 1.

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