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The tiger who went on a great walk to find a friend4 min read

December 22, 2020 4 min read

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The tiger who went on a great walk to find a friend4 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

At present, India is home to 3,000 tigers. While India has 70% of the total population of tigers in the world, it hosts only 25% of the habitat. The good news is that the number of tigers is on the rise. The most recent census has revealed an increase of a third compared to what it was four years ago. However, the tiger-habitat is has shrunk. This is what makes the story of Walker all the more important.

Walker is a three-and-a-half-year-old male tiger who left his home sanctuary in Western Maharashtra in June 2019 seeking something or someone— a mate, territory, or prey. His 3,000 kilometre long journey across Maharashtra, and Telangana brought him to Dnyanganga sanctuary, also in Maharashtra, in April 2020. He got his name after this great walk!

Sourced from BBC.

Here, he is the only tiger in the company of leopards, blue bull, wild boar, peafowl
and spotted deer.

Earlier in February 2019, a radio-collar was attached to Walker. This collar worked as a tracking device that helped officials monitor his movement.
Mostly, Walker walked through the night.

On his adventure, Walker did not walk in a linear manner. He has been spotted at 5,000 locations finally resting at Dnyanganga.

Will Walker stay put?

Walker’s journey brings us to a bigger question on conservation—
Is hopping from one sanctuary to another, a new way of conservation?
How can it be sustained?

The life of the National Animal of India is at stake for multiple reasons. There is poaching, loss of habitat due to developmental projects that clear forests, and human-wildlife conflict. Thus emerges the need for active intervention in their preservation.

For now, Walker is sustaining himself at the 205-sq-km Dnyanganga sanctuary by feeding on wild boars, and blue bulls. However, the looming question is how long can Walker live like this?

Since, tigers are not solitary creatures, officials of the sanctuary are contemplating bringing a friend for Walker. However, this is a tough decision for two reasons. The size of the sanctuary is small to accommodate two tigers. Also, if Walker happens to mate with the new tiger, leading to tiny Walkers, there will be a lot of pressure on prey!

Every tiger requires an increasing population of 500 prey animals to sustain themselves in an area. With the lack of prey, the new-born tigers will start dispersing to neighbouring areas. This poses a threat as the sanctuary is surrounded by farms.

Dnyanganga is like an island. As such, it does not have the best connectivity to other areas that can support a tiger population. Unless this connectivity can be ensured, the growth of Walker’s progeny will pose a big threat.

Walker’s story is important as it poses a big conservation challenge—
While there is a constant need to increase the tiger population in India, there is also the issue of a limited habitat to support this burgeoning number.
Walker may have found a temporary home, but he is yet to find a friend (unlike Kaavan, once the world’s loneliest elephant. Read his story, here).

Owliver will keep a look out for how Walker’s story unfolds.

In the meantime, watch the documentary, The Truth About Tigers, by wildlife filmmaker, Shekhar Dattatri to understand why a growing tiger population is crucial for India’s jungles, and the threats to their survival.

And before you go, here’s a round up on news from the wild:

  1. The elephants return
    A group of 580 savanna elephants returned to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Uganda. Congo has been marked with unrest, violence, and poaching. This return brings hope back to the land.
  2. A rare sighting in Bolivia
    Biologists in Bolivia recently documented a sighting of the elusive Chacoan fairy armadillo. It is baby pink in colour and has well-developed claws, and muscular legs.

  3. IvestEGGator saves turtles from poaching
    Helen Pheasey, a PhD student at the Durell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (United Kingdom) has created InvestEGGator to stop poaching of turtle eggs in Central America. Scientists use 3-D printers to develop decoy eggs with tracking devices. Poachers carry these away not knowing that they are not real. The device allows scientists to track their paths and identity poachers.

  4. Leopard numbers are going up!
    A new report released by the Environmental Minister of India reported an increase of 62% in the leopard population in India over 4 years (2014-2018)- from 7,190 to 12,852.

    Recently, Owliver also brought to you stories about chatty kangaroos, charismatic animals, and the the possible discovery of a new species of beaked whales.


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