It is a war in Ranthambore, a war of survival. With the number of tigers having exponentially grown in the last few years, territorial disputes among the wildlife have also increased. A tiger marks 10-12 square km as his or her territory where it does not allow any other wild cat to enter. If anyone tries to enter that area, there is a fight for dominance. The one who wins retains the area, the weaker gets pushed to the periphery.
When the reserve was brought under national protection in 1973 as the first tiger habitat, it just housed 14-18 tigers. By 2016, the number increased to 60 but the space for the reserve remained constant at 392 square kilometers. It has become the third most densely populated tiger home in India after Corbett in Uttarakhand and Kaziranga in Assam.
There have been several instances of fights in this tiger home of India between young adults trying to dominate the richest prey base. These fights have also resulted in the weaker cat getting injured. Six tigers migrated out of Ranthambore between 2002 and 2013 but only one of them returned.
Forest officials have developed nearby areas like Sawai Mansingh and Kailadevi to handle the increasing population. However, Ranthambore’s field director YK Sahu says that the present tiger area is not congested though it needs to expand.
Former director Project Tiger PK Sen has claimed that the conflict is likely to increase in the next 5-10 years when the population is likely to be more than Ranthambore’s carrying capacity. In an interview to Hindustan Times he said that they can create a corridor, but not territories as those are chosen by the tigers themselves depending on their water and prey base.