Tourists and forest officials alike will miss spotting the two inseparable tiger siblings in the Akola buffer zone of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh who have parted ways after 20 months of togetherness, to stake out their own territory
The two brothers have split up and have gone looking for their own destinies, in different areas.
Panna, Madhya Pradesh
The tiger reserves in the state remaining shut to tourists for the monsoon, has not deterred them from thronging the Akola buffer zone of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. It has become the favourite haunt of wildlife tourists from both within the country and abroad.
Currently, an interesting saga is unfolding in the 7,000-hectare Akola buffer zone, home to two 20-month-old sibling tiger cubs. “Officially they are referred to as P 234-31 and P 234-32, but, the cubs, born in the buffer zone, have been fondly nicknamed Heera and Panna,” Uttam Kumar Sharma, field operator of the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR), told Gaon Connection.
The cubs that were born to tigress P-234, in November 2019, are somewhat of a star attraction amongst the tourists and the forest officials alike. Even since their birth, both have been spotted roaming the area together.
But of late, tourists and forest guards at the buffer zone of the tiger reserve are missing the company of the inseparable Heera and Panna, who, as per the law of the jungle, have split up and gone looking for their own destinies, in different areas.
While Heera and Panna stayed close to their mother till December 2020, in mid January, 2021, they were seen straying for the first time from her. The mother tigress stayed away for a fortnight from her cubs with T-7, a male tiger.
However, forest officials say that the mother did come looking for them once and hunted down prey for them, before leaving them again. She dropped in on them once again in February, 2021, the forest officials said.
Meanwhile, the two brothers learnt to hunt for themselves and have been doing so independently ever since. Heera and Panna have been spotted often in the buffer zone.
The Panna landscape, in the Vindhya mountain ranges, covers over 15,000 square kilometres. It spreads from Lalitpur district in Uttar Pradesh to Sagar, Chhatarpur, Damoh, Panna and Satna districts in Madhya Pradesh and into Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh.
The Akola buffer zone is split into two by the Panna-Damoh road running through it. The zone is a favourite residence of tigers and according to Sharma, three tigresses, P-234, P 234-22 and P234-23, are staking their claim to it.
In October 2020, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, gave permission to attach radio collars to 14 tigers at the Panna Tiger Reserve. The programme was conducted along with the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India in order to track the tigers’ movement and spread within the reserve.
The radio collars were attached to four tigers that roamed the core-buffer border area, four were in the buffer area and six that were spread over the landscape area.
Of the two brothers, P234-31 was radio-collared, on January 6, earlier this year. It was a challenging task as the two tigers were always in close company with each other and the task of attaching the collar was fraught with danger.
Two attempts were made on January 11 and January 26, to radio-collar the other tiger cub, P234-32, but they were unsuccessful. It was decided by the forest officials that P 234-32 would not be radio-collared.
The tigers are now old enough to stake out a territory for themselves, where they can settle down and start their own families.
“We are anticipating that the two tigers will look for terrain outside of the Panna Tiger Reserve and somewhere in the Panna landscape area. There is no place for them in the Akola buffer area that is already home to three grown tigers, T-7, P-111 and P-234 (21),” Sharma explained.
Heera and Panna will either have to oust the adult tigers from there before making the area their home, or, have to leave themselves, the field operator added.
On July 23, P 234-31 was observed moving, without his brother, eastwards. “On July 24, P 234-31 crossed the boundary of the Akola buffer zone and entered the north forest division,” Sharma informed Gaon Connection. P 234-32 was not visible anywhere near at that time, he added. Because P234-32 did not have a radio collar, his location is still unknown.
The tourists and forest guards at the buffer zone at PTR are missing the company of the two inseparable tiger brothers. The two brothers have split up and have gone looking for their own destinies, in different areas. However, that is the law of the jungle and both P234-31 and P234-32 are living by it.
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