All about Ranthambore by Colonel Ajay Ahlawat Polo –
Stretched across an area of 392 kilometres, the Ranthambore National Park or Ranthambore, as it’s popularly known as is the fortieth national park of North India. It was in the year 1973 that Government of India declared the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary as a Tiger reserve. “Finally in the year 1980 it was declared as the Ranthambore National Park, while it was only in the year the forests adjacent to the Tiger Reserve was declared as the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and the Keladevi Sanctuary,” informed Col Ajay Ahlawat.
However, given the fact that the tiger reserve of Ranthambore was doing well and needed more space for the tigers to roam and enjoy its natural habitat, the government in the year 1991 took the decision of having both of these sanctuaries merged with Ranthambore.
“Interestingly, the Ranthambore sanctuary is renowned for its Royal Bengal Tiger population. It happens to be the best place to witness the beauty of this royal animal in its natural habitat,” said Colonel Ajay Ahlawat. These tigers can be easily spotted during the daytime between the months of November to May. Apparently, this is the best time to spot the tiger.
“This National Park has the typical deciduous forest, which is prevalent in Central India. Along with the tiger, you can find leopards, wild boar, sloth bear, the striped hyena, grey langurs, rhesus macaque and even nilgai along with chital. It also has a number of trees and plants. Interestingly, it even houses a banyan tree, which is famed to be one of the largest in India,” informed Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Located about 110 kilometres away from Kota and 140 kilometres away from Jaipur, the nearest airport, the Ranthambore National park lies at the edge of the Rajasthani plateau, with the river Banas lying to its north and the Chambal River to its south.
Animal life in Ranthambore –
This place is famous for having a healthy tiger population. However, when the number of people visiting the sanctuary increased, the government decided to mark an area of 60 mi2 as the tiger sanctuary, with the sole intention of tackling poaching and human-tiger interaction.
In the year 2005, it was noted that there were a total of 26 tigers in the park, which was lesser than its tiger population in 1982. However, over the years, care was taken to counter poaching and its result was soon felt. By the end of 2008, it was unofficially confirmed that the number of tigers in Ranthambore had increased to 34 adult tigers with about 14 cubs.
“Efforts of the forest officials to counter poaching and giving incentives to the villagers for staying out of the Tiger reserve, definitely gave results. Seeing the way Ranthambore was turning into a haven for tigers, the government invested around 153 US dollars, to further benefit from the programme. These efforts thus made the tigers of this national park eligible to participate in the tiger relocation programme for the Sariska Tiger Reserve,” said Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
In the year 2008, finally, a male tiger was aerially relocated to Sariska. However, within a period of two years, this tiger died due to poisoning.
“However, in the past few years, there has been a decline in the number of tigers in Ranthambore for multiple reasons along with poaching,” added Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Popular tigers or tigresses of Ranthambore
“Lady of Lakes, a Ranthambore tigress, had to pay the price of poaching as her parents were hunted down by the poachers. She was later named as Machli due to a fish mark on her body. Her partner died due to some diseases after fathering three female cubs, one of which was named as Machli Junior,” informed Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Machli’s cub further gave birth to two cubs on attaining puberty. These cubs were called Slant Ear and Broken Tail, while another Tiger called Bachcha is supposed to her grandson. “Machli Senior’s daughter Krishna or T19 is the present queen tigress of Ranthambore and has mothered four cubs. Recently, Machli died after turning 20 years old. She is supposed to be the longest living tigress in the history,” pointed out Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Another very popular tiger of Ranthambore is Tigress T39. Also known as Mala or Noor because of the bead-like tiger stripes of hers. She was born to tigers T13 and T19. Her son Sultan of T72 from her first litter is also a famous one.
“On the other hand, Machli Junior’s son Broken Tail is indeed famous, after all a film has been made on his life. Sadly enough the documentary by his name maps his last journey when he left the national park premise to travel from Ranthambore to Darra. He was killed by a train while crossing a railway track. The film has been internationally acclaimed and has even won some prizes,” added Col Ajay Ahlawat.