The tragedy of Sundari

tiger panaorama, 2008 2

The beautiful T17 ( Sundari ), centrepiece of Ranthambore for many years, in the winter of 2008 when she ruled the lakes. She vanished suddenly in 2013, leaving 3 young cubs to fend for themselves.

A massive hunt was launched to find the seven-year-old tigress for over a month, but it came up empty.

An extremely successful and dominant tigress, Sundari was never heard from again and presumed dead. There were many stories and conspiracy theories. Many fingers were pointed in many directions. In the meantime, her cubs were scattered with two of them looking quite weak initially. All the three were later sighted together, but their mother was never found again.

The forest department intervened to a limited extent and the cubs are growing up without their mother. This once again raises the questions of leaving nature to nature or playing God or just being ‘human’. A very real dilemma in today’s vanishing wildernesses.

Its important to note that just like people, tigers also take a long time to teach their young the ways of life. How to hunt, where the water is, which trails lead where and where the danger is. This ‘rearing’ takes about 2 1/2 years, when a sub-adult is confident enough to strike out on its own.

It has been falsely assumed for many years that if you simply relocated a young healthy tiger to a new territory with adequate water and prey base, it will become self sufficient very quickly. Not true!

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