Big cats put up grand spectacle for Chavans

Not many get as lucky as Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his family did on Sunday when they spotted the entire family of a tiger — mother and four 17-month-old cubs. The CM's family received the VIP treatment for about 20 minutes as they were on a safari in the Teliya area of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR).

Along with his wife Satvasheela and daughter Ankita, Chavan had been inside the reserve for four hours and had narrowly missed tiger sighting at least thrice as the big cats played truant. They were about to leave when this grand spectacle happened. "It was a real royal sighting. All five were there all around his vehicle — right, left, front and behind," said a source.

Accompanied by TATR Field Director Virendra Tiwari and Principal Secretary (Forest) Prain Pardeshi, Chavan and family moved inside the reserve around 9 am and could spend just two hours before the official deadline of the round ended at 11 am. While the family could see a lot of other animals, mainly the preys, the tiger was elusive. The family was again inside the tourist area at 3.30 pm and was about to leave when an alert of a tiger sighting came from Teliya.

The vehicle was turned back towards the area. "The tiger family was there surrounding the vehicle from all directions. The sighting continued for about 20 minutes and could have carried on had the CM not had to leave for Nagpur," said an official. "The CM's day, however, was made and the family was very happy after the grand spectacle," he added. Earlier, Chavan addressed jawans of the 120-strong newly-created Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) and exhorted them to ensure the safety of wildlife in the Tadoba landscape. Tiwari gave the CM a presentation on issues concerning protection and corridor conservation and the measures and schemes being undertaken to strengthen the wildlife regimen.

In a special announcement, the CM said he would ensure three hostels would be created at Nagpur, Pune and Kolhapur especially for the children of foresters and forest guards who can't have good educational facilities for them at the places where they are deputed.

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