Celebrated Tigers of India: The Patrani of Panna
Tigers have had a very special place in India. They are not only our national animal but have been associated with the most powerful deities. They represent royalty and power for many cultures around the world.
In India, especially in the rural side, Tigers have had all sorts of reputations. If you look at "The Jungle Book", we will read about a man-eater tiger Sheerkhan who wanted to kill Mowgli; If you look at our mythology we study about Durga Ma's trusted vahan who is a Tiger. If we look at the western comics "Calvin and Hobbes", we see a wise tiger giving small hooks of life.
It is a very interesting fact that 70% of the world's population of tigers live in India. For us, they are a symbol of pride, beauty and fierceness. So today on the World Tiger's Day let's get a little close at our natural heritage.
The Patrani (Queen) of Panna:
Panna tiger reserve falls in Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh with about 542.67km square as a core area. Panna has an amazing variety of flora and fauna with a dynamic dry deciduous forest with extensive plateaus and gorges, sehas and has the most mesmerizing waterfalls.
Panna Tiger reserve has a very interesting history. You can read more about it in an Amazon available book called ‘Our tigers return’, a pictorial book available in Hindi and English on the history of Panna up to 2015, which can be referred to understand Panna’s tiger revival history, flora and fauna. Panna is said to have lost its tigers for a couple of Months in 2009. However, Panna immediately started a Tiger Reintroduction Program right away. They faced various hiccups not only with the locals being unsupportive in the beginning. Last remaining male tigers left the tiger reserve just few days before the arrival of T1 and T2 leaving the department with the only option of full
tiger reintroduction programme.
Although the support from the locals was scarce, eventually they started owning the tigers and owned the tigers and tiger reserve. But this took a lot of effort. Starting from naming tigers to creating ownership for the tigers with suffix Panna to compensating for the timely cattle kills that are taken away by the tigers as food. Today the reserve has about 62 tigers. This was possible because of the seven founding tigers of Panna and way the Panna reserve management strived. Out of which T1 from Bandhavgarh, T2 from Kanha were the first ones to come to Panna. And T3 from Pench joined them in the month of November 2009.
T1 has a very special place in the hearts of everyone. T1 was awarded the title of ‘Patrani’ or ‘Maharani’ for she was the first tigress to give birth to tiger cubs that repopulated Panna after the Tiger Reintroduction Program, giving the forest officials and forest department a reason to smile and brought hope for a brighter future for Panna Tiger Reserve. Some of her well-known traits included being gentle and accommodating. She was known for avoiding fights with other tigresses and giving them a well-deserved area to strive.
When T1 gave birth to her first litter, she chose a very beautiful and famous place in the reserve known as Dunduva (seha). All the important megafauna of Panna can be found in this one place. One summer, when her cubs were young, playing at the waterhole,T1 saw a sloth bear advancing towards the waterhole. To protect her children, she crouched down and surprised the sloth bear halfway. After a brief strife between the sloth bear and tigress, sloth bear fled the scene. After the fight she did seem thoroughly shocked, she made her way back to her cubs and went back into the den. For the next few days there was minimal movement of the cubs and the tigress.
Mother Tigers are very careful of their health as well as her own wellbeing, to be able to cater to her children. They are also known to be extremely cautious regarding fights with others especially when with cubs. And this clever strategy and trait could be seen very evidently in T1. T1’s prime area was between Imilia Seha, Dhunduva Seha, and Ken River along the courses of Chapner rivulet. With that being said, T1 can still one among the lucky live founder tigers of Panna. She has proved herself worthy of every bit of praise she has received. She may not be from Panna, but Panna is from her. Today, she is the heartbeat of every forest official of Panna Tiger Reserve. This praise can be shared with all the 7 founding tigers that made Panna, but among them, T1 will always have a special place.
I had great help from Mr. R Sreenivasa Murthy Sir, who at the time of the Tiger Reintroduction Programme was the Field Director of Panna Tiger Reserve while putting facts of T1 for everyone’s benefit. He is extremely passionate about tigers. He was the co-author of the book ‘Our Tigers Return’. He is also coming out with full panna revival history in his own three volume book ‘‘The Panna Epic’, whose website releases today on ‘Global Tigers Day 2020’. He has received the 'Baagh Mitra 2011' Award from WWF-India and PATA in 2012 and Madhya Pradesh Gaurav Samman in 2016 for re-establishing tigers at Panna from Madhya Pradesh Government in 2016 among the many other awards and honors bestowed upon him. He was also invited to Cambodia as an expert in 2017 to help them with their tiger reintroduction programme.
Although he believes that every single tiger of Panna should be celebrated in India but if he would choose one, it must be P222. She was abandoned by her mother T2 when she was just 11 months old, her sister P223 was unfortunately killed by a dominant Male tiger. However, she grew up and strived on her own and today is a very healthy tigress roaming the jungles of Panna and already littered thrice adding to the beautiful
panna tiger family.
Stay tuned this week for different stories from different Tiger reserves of India: Coming up next is: Machli and Noor of Ranthambore