A tiger in India traveled 1,300 kilometers (807 miles) in search of a mate – the longest walk ever recorded by a big cat in India, the researchers said.
The five-month odyssey saw the tiger, dubbed T1-C1 by scientists, cross forests and urban areas before settling in a nature reserve, said Ravikiran Govekar, field director of the Maharashtra State Forest Department.
Male tigers migrate as part of a natural process of marking their territory in order to find a habitat where they can assert their dominance, moving away from their already densely populated place of origin.
T1-C1, two and a half years old, was one of three cubs born of a tiger called TWLS-T1 in 2016. A satellite radio collar was placed on all three in February 2019 as part of a study to monitor the scattering pattern of the young tigers.
The tiger began its migration in late June 2019 from Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in the western state of Maharashtra. Govekar said an adult male tiger dominated the sanctuary and T1-C1 went in search of food and potential companion.
"The main concern is a thriving prey base, however it is also important to find a mate and there were no tigers with whom he could mate in the Tipeshwar sanctuary," Govekar said.
The tiger crossed the southern state of Telangana and returned to Maharashtra several times, feeding on cattle and wildlife like antelopes along the way. He then went to the Dnyanganga Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra, approximately 300 kilometers northwest of where his journey began.
The tracking collar has been active for nine months and will be removed from the tiger when the battery is completely discharged. The T1-C1 is currently being monitored by officials at Dnyanganga Shrine.
"A tiger's behavior is unpredictable, but we are monitoring it," said Vishal Mali, an official at the sanctuary's forest division. "The region has enough natural resources and prey for the tiger to support itself and may decide to settle there permanently."
Tigers are an endangered species and less than 4,000 remain on Earth, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Several thousand tigers live in reserves in India, where killing one can result in imprisonment.
The Forestry Department hopes the T1-C1 journey study will help you better manage tiger migration routes and avoid conflict between people and big cats
The department began tracking migration routes in 2016, but it is the first time that more than half of a tiger's journey passes through populated areas when the T1-C1 passes through 11 villages.
"Once it entered the agricultural region, it could not leave, and as it could support itself by killing (farmers) cattle and moving along a stream, it continued to advance," Govekar said.
The friction between man and beast was clearly illustrated when a resident disturbed the tiger and had a lucky escape.
"There was only one incident where the kick occurred at one location, but I wouldn't say it was the tiger's fault; they were coming to take a selfie or something," Govekar said. The resident made a full recovery, Govekar added.
According to the India Forestry Survey of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the country gained 6,778 square kilometers (2,617 square miles) of forest cover between 2015 and 2017, when the last forest assessment It happened.
Meanwhile, India's tiger population increased almost a third in the last four years for nearly 3,000 animals, according to a national survey released in July this year.
There were 2,967 tigers in the country in 2018, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which conducts the research.
This represents a 33% increase compared to the latest survey of 2014, according to an NTCA statement, and continues population growth that has been observed since 2006.