Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors head to tiger reserves to catch a glimpse of that striped wonder. Only a few succeed! But a tiger sighting at Bannerghatta Biological Park near Bangalore city has left park staff and visitors possibly wondering – “just how did the cat come to be here?”
“The big cat was spotted by staff and visitors in the park’s safari range, 30-odd km from the city.
“BBP is now part of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary that spreads over 1,020 sqkm and cuts through Ramanagaram, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts, linking Male Madeshwara hills of Karnataka with Satyamangala forests, Tamil Nadu.
“The nearest place where tiger breeding happens is said to be 90km from BBP. “The big cat could have strayed into the park; tiger movements have been reported near Bilikal Ranganathaswamy Betta, about 50km away,” said Sunil Pawar, deputy conservator of forests, BBP.
“The other possibility is that it could have come from the forests of Tamil Nadu to the north of river Cauvery,” said another official. Some feelthough BNP is part of Cauvery sanctuary, the forest stretch is fragmented and is close to human habitats. “Tigers have this habit of hiding (sometimes through the day) and travelling at night while crossing villages. If that’s the case with this particular big cat, it must have covered quite a long distance, crossing highways, streams and other hurdles,” he explained.
“Last time a wild tiger was camera-trapped close to Bengaluru was in Cowdahalli range, about 80km from the city, on October 12, 2013.
“Range Gowda, executive director, BBP, said the sighting is another example of successful conservation efforts. Tigers usually prefer a large territory of about 25sqkm to roam around.
“Tigers do stray from their territory and cover long distances due to the presence of too many big cats in one area (increased pressure on source population) or because they are in search of new mates, ” he added. The increase in herbivore population in BBP region means the area can support tiger population, said Gowda. ”