Monday, June 8, 2009


(This story is about the relocation of tigers to Sariska, the inbreeding chances in tigers of Sariska and a different perspective of one of India’s biggest Wildlife Conservation drama’s ….)

NDTV ran ''Save the Tiger'' campaign and for a talk show they invited a panel of wildlife experts and Jogi to come in an open forum, in the NDTV discussion room...

This panel consisted of a WII expert, a NTCA representative and Chief wildlife warden (CWLW) of Rajasthan along with Mr. Jogi.

The room had a long table with the 4 experts sitting on one side, the NDTV reporter sitting on a side desk and a group of audience sitting in stalls in the front where I too sat as a spectator.

The NDTV reporter directed a question towards the NTCA expert, ‘Please tell us how many tiger reserves are there in India?’

The mike was pointed at the NTCA expert but the answer came from the side, it was our Jogi replying, ‘I don’t know how many tiger reserves are there now, they keep declaring new once every day. However I do know which tiger reserves are without any tigers.’

The reporter gave a sly smile on Jogi’s reply and went on to ask the next question to the WII expert, ‘What is Inbreeding?

The WII scientist was about to answer before that the CWLW said to Jogi, ‘Now answer this Jogiji do you know about inbreeding?’

The Chief Wildlife Warden continued further, ‘I want to say this Jogi can only see construction in park, corruption in officers and the loop holes in my department. He is just a critique with no knowledge of wildlife or its conservation whatsoever.’

Jogi smiled serenely....looking at the serenity on his face the Chief Wildlife Warden’s face was turning redder and redder’

The Chief Wildlife Warden asked again, ‘Ok as the reporter sahib is asking, now answer what is inbreeding?’

Now Jogi started looking here and there, by the look on his face i could guess Jogi was brewing some wicked thoughts…

Some spectator hinted, ‘Jogiji it is the breeding in a small population’

On hearing this, Mr. Jogi started off...

‘Oh yes! Recently 2 tigresses were shifted from Ranthambhore to Sariska both were from the same mother and the same father. Mother Machali II and father Male X.

Mother - Machali II Tigress

Father - Male X

Machali II's Litter - The last three litter fathered by Male X

A little about Machali - Machali is a beautiful tigress she was named so because of the 'fish' like marking on her face. The real Machali suddenly vanished one day and from that day onwards a group of film makers filming her started calling a tigress Machali, we call her Machali II here.

Machali II is an equally beautiful tigress. But this tigress doesn't posses the fish-like markings. Machali II is about 13 - 14 year old today. The above are her litter's. Machali II is the most photographed and filmed tigress possibly in history! As per TOFT( ) she is the most revenue earning tigress forRanthambhore National Park!

More than economical significance her ecological significance is far greater, due to her two offspring’s Sariska is alive again! Machali has given birth to 9 tigers till date. Out of 9, three died. Of the 6 living today 2 tigresses are shifted to Sariska and 4 are in Ranthambhore.

Babli Tigress AKA T1 - Shifted to Sariska

T18 Tigress (Shifted to Sariska) with Mother Machali II

One of the spectators, a teenager sitting in the studio stall stood up and said. ‘Arrrey Jogi baba it’s not like that!’

Jogi looked at him and winked, he said, ‘the CWLW and WII experts know all theories of inbreeding but I am sure they are not aware about the practical’s’

Jogi said to the child, ‘Beta please give some bookish gyan to explain to all.’

What is Inbreeding?

In general, an organism with two parents has two versions of every gene – one maternal and one paternal. These different flavors of a gene are called alleles. (A,a)

If the maternal and paternal alleles differ, one of them usually dominates, conferring all of its qualities to the offspring. The other, silenced allele is called “recessive.”

Inbreeding depression is thought to be a result of harmful pattern of inherited genes.

Inbreeding depression is thought to be caused primarily by the collection of a multitude of harmful mutations, few in themselves fatal, but all diminishing fitness.

Normally, in an outbreeding population these alleles would be selected against, hidden, or corrected by the presence of good alleles (versions of genes) in the population.

Sexual reproduction and the shuffling of alleles of genes occur when two unrelated individuals mate.

When that shuffling can't happen because both parents already have mostly the same alleles, the result will be inbreeding depression, if not in a given litter, then in a few more generations of such breeding.

Genes associated with inbreeding depression could be grouped into three broad categories of function: those involved in metabolism, stress, and defense.

Result of inbreeding:

o Elevated incidence of recessive genetic diseases

o Reduced fertility both in litter size and in sperm viability

o Increased congenital defects such as cryptorchidism, heart defects, and cleft palates.

o Fluctuating asymmetry (such as crooked faces, or uneven eye placement and size).

o Lower birth weight

o Higher neonatal mortality

o Slower growth rate

o Smaller adult size, and

o Loss of immune system function.

Animal biology professor Ken Paige who has conducted extensive study on Inbreeding Depression said, the best approach is to try to preserve and maintain genetic diversity in natural populations well before they begin their slide into an “extinction vortex.”

After this explaination Jogi said, ‘But I still feel that inbreeding must be good for keeping pure genes, as the selection of tigers for translocation to Sariska was all done in the direction of our dear Chief Wildlife Warden Sahib and with affirmation from the WII expert who is responsible for the selection of tigers from Ranthambhore national Park. ’

Now the CWLW didn’t know where to look!

After all the tigers being wiped out from Sariska Tiger Reserve (Read more Rajasthan Forest Department shifted three tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska Tiger Reserve. A young male tiger T10 and female tigresses T1 aka Babli and T18. The two females were from the same mother Machali II with father Male X and possibly T10 also had the same father. Some guards from Dhundarmal ka Darra and Ananthpura reported that that Male X resided in the territory of T10's mother.

2 major population decline reports have been reported in Ranthambhore in the past 15 years. The latest population decline happened between 2002 and 2005. In 2005, ultimately just two males had survived Male X and Jhumroo. Jhumroo is son of tigress Machali II and male X is father of Babli and T18 and possibly of the T10 male as well because T10 shared the same territory as male X.

Male X has been filmed along with Bunti and Babli and T17, T18 and T19, only a father of cubs would do this act and not any outside male.

Chief Wildlife Warden intervened and said ‘this is not an authentic report.’

Jogi replied, ‘Sahib you have proved many times how authentic and learned you are. Your tiger relocation plan loopholes are out here. You have sent siblings to Sariska.

You expect that there will be gene diversity in the next generation of tigers in Sariska? And you are questioning me about Inbreeding? If you understood so much then you could have tried sending tigers of different parentage and not kins.’

Please also be reminded of the letter sent to you by NTCA Ref: No. PS- MS (NTCA)/2008– Miscle. Dated 3rd November 2008. Which said, ‘Under no circumstances tigresses residing within the RanthambhoreNational Park area should be translocated to Sariska, since this is bound to disturb the existing land tenure/ sociology of resident tigers. However, there may be no risk in translocating non-encumbered tigresses dispersing to prey deficient areas of keladevi or Mansingh sanctuaries, as established by field observations.

Followed by this letter on the 4th November 2008 again a letter was addressed to you by the NTCA, Letter Ref: No. PS- MS (NTCA)/ 2008 – Miscle. which said, Further to the correspondence cited above, please ensure that no chemical immobilization of tigers for translocating to Sariska, should be done within the boundary of RNP. The officers and field staff may please be directed for strictly adhering to this advisory.

'Also Mr. Chief Wildlife Warden, you picked the third tigress from Gudha area of the forest which is part of Ranthambhore National Park. While, since a year a tigress has strayed in Keladevi Sanctuary killing cattle’s and is possibly in the bad eyes of the villagers who can poison her anytime with the inadequate monitoring that your department is providing for her protection.’

Jogi snapped, 'The WII scientist are equally responsible for all this as they have not given the required time for searching the tigers.'

The WII scientist panicked and came to his defence, ‘What were we suppose to do when the helicopter was standing on our head and we were supposed to send a tiger within that time! What came in front of us we just picked it up…!’

'However this is an isolated population and nearest tiger population is 700- 800 Km away from here. Inbreeding is going to occur in such a place, so Jogi why are you pointing all the knives and guns at us and getting so emotional about things? Ranthambhore is a TCU level III conservation unit...and according to scientific data there are no chances of tigers surviving here anyway.'

In year 1999, Wikramanayake E. D et al. created a framework for identifying the High-priority areas for the conservation of tigers in the wild in the future.

Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) is an ecology based method for defining priorities for tiger conservation. It is to facilitate the best use of limited conservation resources. Based on several parameters they formulated the TCU levels I, II and III. Some of them are: Tiger habitat size, Habitat degradation degree, Fragmentation, Connectivity to other tiger habitat, Poaching, and Tiger population status.

TCU level I receiving the maximum priority and III with minimum priority.

Ranthambhore is Level III Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU), The nearest tiger reserves are Corbett, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna all of which are about 700- 800 km away from Ranthambhore. Hence new genes arrival chances are very bleak.

NDTV spokesman asked if this is TCU level III conservation unit...then should the conservation work be stopped over here? If there are no chances of tigers surviving here.

Jogi said, ‘Beta, this TCU research in terms of ecological factors is correct but in tiger conservation many other factors play a role.In a nation like India, politics is the major factor. One example is Simlipal, which is put as level I tiger conservation unit but that is in hands of naxalites and the local tribal’s have activities like 'Akhand shikar'.. .

Jogi said, 'I shall tell you few things about Ranthambhore after which you can decide in which level TCU should Ranthambhore be placed.'

  1. Hope for the Aravali landscape: there was a time when many areas of Aravali was populated with tigers. Today tiger habitat has shriveled and confided to Ranthambhore. Four other protected area’s future is connected with Ranthambhore National Park. Viz. Sariska Tiger Reserve, Ramgarh Bishdhari Sanctuary, Keladevi Sanctuary and of course Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary because other areas do not have tigers but are connected to Ranthambhore from where the tigers move in and out to these areas, Sariska is not connected but the tigers shifted to Sariska were Ranthambhore residents
  2. Ecologically significant area: If there is Siberian tiger living in minus 45° Celsius there is Royal Bengal tiger living in Ranthambhore’s 45° Celsius. Similarly, on one end if there is Naam Dapha which is a rain forest on other end there is Ranthambhore like dry deciduous forest where the tiger survives. Tiger is getting wiped out from the dry regions of India but it still exists in dry region of Ranthambhore. It may be ecologically difficult to save but it sure is an ecologically significant tiger habitat.
  3. Tiger and tiger behavior monitoring: Tourists come here to see tigers but they get much more in their visits, an opportunity to see tiger behavior like mating, hunting, cubs raising, and relationship with other tigers, territorial fights. All because this is a dry deciduous open forest. In other areas tiger are elusive creatures and difficult to spot forget observing their behavioral patterns. Ranthambhore has limited water sources and since no animal can live without water and so the tiger, we do see it near water holes. Also, due to dry sand on the road pug marks can be spotted easily for tracking it. Tourists definitely have taken advantage of this and so the tourism industry has benefited and yes, few writers and film makers too. But the trained scientist who could have used this opportunity for understanding tiger’s undisclosed behavior did not use this it to the optimum level.
  4. Important for other cat species: Tiger is found in other places but species like caracal is found in very few places and Ranthambhore is one of them. Ranthambhore is an important habitat for the caracal, rusty spotted cat is also found here.
  5. Ranthambhore as a Conservation Temple: Many models of conservation were kicked off from here and many till date are working. Several other parks have adopted the models used in Ranthambhore. Many well known scientist and tiger experts have got the learning’s from Ranthambhore. Ranthambhore tigers are the most photographed and filmed tigers, interest in the big cat among the common man is due to these photographs and films of tigers.

Jogi concluded, 'Even after this if one feels that Ranthambhore is not an important Tiger conservation Unit then one must open his eyes and see other forests like Simlipal, Panna, Manas, other forests of North east, Chhattisgarh; even there the tiger population is facing great threat and difficulties for survival. Some are facing problems of poaching and deforestation by locals, some have problem of non-resolvable political instability like terrorist, naxalites.'

Hearing all this all were in a stunned state of enlightment, the NDTV journalist took over and said, ‘We shall end this discussion here today, but we do have a lot to go back and think!

Saving the tigers cannot be achieved by firing one magic bullet! One way out that we understood today is: Breaking down the larger issues in to smaller focused bits which should have technically practical and politically feasible solutions.'


  1. great work divya.

    i am lost for words right now

  2. Congratulation for nice article on Ranthambhore & Tigers.
    I am totally agreed with you on inbreeding. The same thing
    Happens with humans also. And they have sent siblings to Sariska.
    May God bless them. (Pata nahin ye log kaise kaam karte hain.)
    I am also agreed with your thoughts on Ranthambhore. I think
    Ranthambhore is a great place to see tigers and other species in the wild.
    Totally disagreed with TCU III which is saying
    “Ranthambhore is a TCU level III conservation unit...and according to scientific data there are no chances of tigers surviving here anyway.”
    In this regard I want to say, any one can see surviving elephants in the desert of Africa. (See this:
    They need more than 200 litters of water to drink per day. If they can survive then our Ranthambhore Tigers also live.

  3. Arjun SrivathsaMonday, June 15, 2009

    a very well written article indeed...u still dont fail to leave me mesmerized with your ability to remain discreet, diplomatic and at the same time slapping the one who erred! for people who know THIS jogi, its not too difficult to guess who it was, merely by his way of words and actions ;)...JUST came back from sariska...let us all hope that a time comes wen it can become a tiger habitat again! keep it up....

  4. thats great ...exotic...
    I'm totally hypnotized by your work....
    keep it up...

  5. very educational.. grt piece of work.. thanks..:)

  6. just watched a film on the BBC in the UK on Sariska tiger reserve. Came online to find if the tigress had successfully bred and had cubs and found your article, which is certainly food for thought. Thankyou, very enlightening, Debra