Madhya Pradesh tigress ‘Queen of Pench’ delivers 4 more cubs... 26 so far

- BHOPAL: With four cubs in its seventh litter, Collarwali - the tigress fondly called by visitors to Pench Tiger Reserve because of her radio collar - maintained a record of giving birth to highest number of cubs in wild in Madhya Pradesh.

This tigress has so far given birth to total 26 tiger cubs. The latest bunch of cubs were spotted by patrolling squad a few weeks ago. It is all smiles for the forest staff and wildlife experts in the state that has lost 35 tigers in last few months.

"There are four cubs and they are very small. It's a good sign towards conservation efforts," said Subhranjan Sen, field director of the reserve.

Also referred to as 'Queen of Pench' and 'Pench princess', the Collarwali herself was one of four cubs of famous tigress 'Barimada' featured in the famous documentary titled 'Spy in the Jungle'.

And, she was the first of Barimada's cubs to establish her territory in core area of her mother's range, experts say. Collarwali gave birth to 18 cubs between 2008 and 2013 of which 14 survived.

She littered three beautiful cubs for the first time in May 2008. But as an inexperienced mother, she could not protect them from the harsh climate. All three cubs died of pneumonia within 24 days, recalls a forest officer.

In October 2008, she produced her second litter - four cubs including three males. All survived. Experts claim she has used 13 different sites to rear her three litters and most of the times it used to be caves.

Pench is now home to more than 50 adult tigers. A male tiger translocated from this reserve had led to successful reintroduction project of tiger in Panna tiger reserve. Devoid of tiger population that fell to poaching and other reasons, Panna is now a model in tiger reintroduction project with a population of 18 big cats (cubs and sub adults). From zero tigers in Panna tiger reserve, the reintroduced 4 tigress have given birth to 17 cubs in less than three years.

The Panna tiger reintroduction project envisaged reintroducing six tigers in all including the earlier two females as a part of founder population to start with (two males and four females).

Accordingly, male tiger from Pench (T3) was brought in the month of November 2009 which, after staying for a short while moved out of the park. Some say that it was for the first time that a 'homing' instinct was observed in a wild tiger. T3 was always moving in the southern direction that was his home, where Pench was located. It travelled more than 450km during that month-long outing.<

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