Rajasthan tigresses named after minister

FP

The minister for forests in Rajasthan has a unique privilege: two Royal Bengal tigers are named after her. Officials say Minister of State for Environment and Forests Bina Kak "suggested" that the tigers should be named after her; Kak insists "local people" named them after her.

Bina 1 and Bina 2 are two-year-old sub-adult tigresses who were transferred from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska tiger reserve last week, when their names stirred a controversy.

Wildlife conservationists and activists said tigers are named in accordance with a specific coding procedure; all tigers in Ranthambhore, for example, are in the T series T24, T25 or T26, etc. in forest department records, and those in Sariska are ST1, ST2, etc. Bina 1 and Bina 2 are, in forest records, B1 and B2.

Local people and forest officials sometimes have their own names for tigers in their areas perhaps Sundari, Machhli or Zalim. But no tiger has ever been named after a human personality before.

Kak does have a connection with the two Binas, though. Their mother, a Kachida tigress named T5, had fallen ill soon after delivering them, and Kak had ordered immediate surgery on her. T5 could not be saved, but the efforts of the forest department ensured both her cubs overcame the odds and survived.

According to officials, the minister believed she had a role in the cubs' survival. Said a senior official posted at the park at that time, "The minister took special care of the cubs. When they were about five months old, she suggested that they be named after her. We couldn't agree more."

Kak said she had had no role in the naming of the tigers; however, she said tigers liked to be called by names that were less impersonal.

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