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Tiger Safari India - Nagzira national park where the legend of the huge male tiger Jai was born!

Posted in: India, Posted in: India Tiger Safari

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Photo Credit: Hazeeb 500Px.com

Nagzira to Umred – The story of Jai, the lovesick tiger.

During June and July 2014, I spent a month travelling through central India and visited for the first time the little known Nagzira tiger sanctuary in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It was here that I first heard a little about the amazing story of Jai; a male tiger who had left Nagzira due to the lack of female tigers to mate with and had ended up in the even more obscure Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary; which is located just south of Nagpur.

The reality for male tigers living in either small wildlife sanctuaries, forest corridors or fragmented unprotected forests is that they have to travel much further to find a receptive female and ensure their genes are carried on to the next generation of tigers.

Nagzira tiger sanctuary to Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary – a tiger walk full of danger!

Once any tiger decided to leave a protected national park or sanctuary in India its chances of survival immediately drop as the chances of human/tiger conflict increases dramatically. If you have ever driven the bumpy roads of rural India, you will understand that India is full of people; even when you think you are in the middle of nowhere, you will come across people on the roads, in the fields and pass small settlements and towns on a regular basis. The tiger searching for a better live has all these obstacles to overcome, as well as manmade barriers, such as roads, railway lions, factories and giant dams. Some of these obstacles will prove fatal to the tiger, but if he or she can make it to the new sanctuary, the long term chances of survival and finding a new mate will improve considerably.

Jai arrives in Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary and is soon the new King in Town!

If you are a male tiger like Jai looking to establish your own territory and find a female you are probably not going to worry too much about other male tigers – especially if your father and mother have blessed you with size and attitude. This is a tiger who had walked through some of the most crowded, developed parts of Vidharbha, crossing two highways, one river and passing hundreds of villages. It was a 150-km trek that proved old forest corridor links existed between the two tiger sanctuaries; although they are far from in optimum condition.

Jai made himself busy and within 2 years had mated with as many as 5 resident tigresses. Indian photographer friends of mine tell me a story that he mates with a tigress and then walks her to the edge of her territory and then meets the second tigress and does the same with her. In this way the most dominant of male tigers can cover 150 sq kms through multiple female tigress territories and ensuring that their offspring (in his case as many as 20 tiger cubs) are fully protected during his reign

Jai the missing tiger – How a male tiger, even with a radio collar, can easily go missing from India’s forests?

I have never been a big fan of radio collars on any large predators, as beside the obvious medical risks of sedating a large predator, it is often done by poorly trained operatives with little thought as to what they hope to gain from the data. In addition, a lot of the early work done by George Schaller in Nepal, gave us a very good idea of the size of tiger and tigress territories and how they protect them. One of the reasons given for Jai being collared is to gain an intimate understanding of his ‘wandering’; as some tigers – and he is one of them – actually spend a lot of their time outside of protected areas and therefore are much more at risk of being killed. You would think that with all this investment of money and time by the authorities they would be able to respond rapidly – as they need to – when the signal from the radio collar stops. However when this happened to Jais collar in April, there was no immediate response. It is unlikely that a 7 year old dominant male tiger in the prime of his life would leave his ‘patch’ and so we must now consider poaching, poisoning or a territorial dispute as a possible cause of death. This is a tiger who regularly killed local livestock and because of his ‘stardom’ was tolerated to a large extent; but it only takes one disgruntled farmer and a bottle of cheap poisen, to snuff the light out on a tiger legend.

If you would like to visit Nagzira wildlife sanctuary as part of your tiger safari in India or even have a day safari in Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary then we can put together a bespoke tiger safari for you and let you see for yourself the forests, lakes and villages which Jai called his home.

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