More tigers than it can hold

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The very birth of a lone tiger cub in Ranthambhore and Sariska Tiger Sanctuaries is hailed as ‘Khush Khabri’ and celebrated. When five cubs were born in three days last week at the two sanctuaries, forestry officials and wildlife enthusiasts were understandably thrilled.

Last Saturday, it was a tourist who spotted a tigress carrying her cub in her mouth. She captured the rare moment on her mobile camera and soon the news spread like wildfire. The photo showed Noor, the tigress numbered T -39, with her newborn baby. Shortly after, officials discovered two more newborn cubs in Ranthambhore and two cubs in Sariska while scanning camera footage from strategically placed ‘camera traps’. Noor, the 13-year-old tigress has given birth to nine cubs so far, seven of whom have survived. A tigress in the wild typically produces a maximum of four litters, two to four cubs each. “My personal experience in Ranthambhore National Park however shows that under the right conditions a tigress can have a litter every three years on average until she is 15 years old. Often all the offspring of the first litter die before reaching adulthood. Noor is therefore surely capable of delivering bear cubs for another two years,” says Satish Jain, a veteran guide in Ranthambhore. But did Noor give birth to more than one baby? Officials are still looking at camera footage to verify.

Four baby tigers photographed in a single day, officials say, was a first and very significant. While two T-27 tigress cubs were captured by camera in Akbarpur range in Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar district, two other cubs were delivered to Ranthambhore by T-77 tigress .

“Good news from Sariska Tiger Reserve…now Sariska Tiger Reserve has 27 tigers (9 tigers, 11 females and 7 cubs); their growing number is a matter of joy,” Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted. In Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, the total number of tigers is now 77, including 23 adult males and 30 adult females.

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