Sanjay Dubri- Past and Present

Few Decades Back

1st April is widely recognized as April Fool’s Day- consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. But there was nothing funny about that day in 1973 when Indian Government chose to setup Project Tiger to ensure a stable population of the Bengal Tiger species facing threats of extinction!

9 tiger reserves were initially chosen for this conservation programme and two years after this Sanjay Dubri National Park was established in 1975 to add to the list of growing protected areas . At present , Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve comprises Sanjay National Park and the Dubri Wildlife Sanctuary, both of which cover more than 831 sq.km and are located in Sidhi District. The landscape primarily boasts of Sal, Bamboo trees.

Remember the famous white tiger Mohan? Well, it was from this landscape he was rescued by the Maharaja of Rewa in 1951. He was later reared in an enclosure in Govindgarh and bred to tigress Radha. She delivered first white tigers in captivity, and most of the white tigers present in the zoo across the world are their progeny only. In remembrance, one of the park Range has been named after this White Tiger, “Mohan”.

Today As It Stands

Currently, the Tiger reserve has around 150 species of birds, 32 species of mammals, 11 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibian and many more to claim its place as an important biodiverse spot. The major species found are Sloth bear, Chital, Barking deer, Nilgai, Sambar (limited to hilly terrain and in very small number), Wild Boar, Leopard, Dhole (wild dog), Jungle Cat, Hyena, Porcupine, Jackal, Fox, Indian Wolf, Indian Python, and of course the Bengal Tiger!

Safaris are limited and like any other Indian forest it is challenging to spot the Big Cat. The forest with total area of around 1674 sq km (Core and Buffer ) is part of two corridors which are one of the few functional tiger corridors in India . Here large swathes of land have been brought under plantation of exotic species such as eucalyptus. Tigers are known to use these corridors as they disperse during adulthood or after losing battles to establish new regimes ! The two corridors as per NTCA include –

Corridor I: The corridor between North Shahdol division, between Panpatha sanctuary of
Bandavgarh and Dubri sanctuary is a long strip of about 30 km with a width of almost 15km
fragmented at several places. This corridor is used by the tigers to cross over from Bandhavgarh to Sanjay Dubri. A large part of the area has been notified as buffer.
Corridor II: The area bounded by Dubri sanctuary and Sanjay National park in the north and the
forests of Korea Division and Guru Ghasidas National park (Chattisgarh state) in the south,
connecting Sanjay Dubri tiger reserve and Guru Ghasidas national park is another important
corridor. Portion of this corridor, falling in the state of MP, has been notified as part of the buffer
area of Sanjay Dubri. It is used by tigers of the reserve to cross over from Dubri sanctuary to
Sanjay National Park area and occasionally to Guru Ghasidas National Park.

As per sources , T-11 or Kamli ,the tigress brought here from Bandhavgarh is responsible for the current generation of big cats at Sanjay Dubri. She is now the partner of dominant male T-5 as they look to usher in a new era of Tiger population in the reserve.

T5 -Photography by Suddhasattwa Das.

Presence of sub-adults show a viable population in the park ready to continue National Animal’s journey back to resurrection from the lows of 1973!

T-18– Photography by Suddhasattwa Das

Suddha and Niladri.

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