Collarwali – the famous tigress of Madhya Pradesh’s Pench Tiger Reserve – died on Saturday evening at the age of 16.
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests PCCF (Wildlife), Alok Kumar, said that they had been monitoring the tigress for the past few days and it appears that she died because of age-related ailments.
‘Usually, it is an organ failure like in the case of humans. However, the exact cause will be ascertained following a post-mortem, Kumar added.
According to Om Veer, a naturalist and wildlife photographer at Pench, ‘Collarwali, also known as T-15, was last spotted on January 14 when she had come to drink water at her usual spot at the Bhura dev nalla. ‘She came to the water stream and was so weak that she could barely walk. She rested near the stream and did not move for around 2 hours. At that point, there were 42 vehicles inside Pench and all of them saw her, Veer told The Indian Express.
The forest officials soon reached the spot and the roads were closed. She was taken in for treatment and breathed her last at 6:15 pm on Saturday. According to the officials, T-15 was born on September 22, 2005, to tiger T-1, which was known as ‘Charger’ and tigress T-7, known as ‘Bari mada’. Collarwall was the first born of Barimada’s four cubs and was also featured in BBC’s documentary “Spy in the Jungle’.
Dr Aniruddha Majumdar, a scientist with MP State Forest Research Institute who had observed Collarwali for seven years to study breeding and cub raising among tigers, said, ‘Collarwali was the first one among the other cubs to move out and live with her father T-1, who was one of the most dominating tigers of Pench. Much like him, Collarwali dominated the prey rich area of the tiger reserve and held a distinguished record of giving birth to 5 cubs in a litter in October 2010. Sanjay Tiwari, a social activist who followed Collarwall, described her as a tourist-loving tigress. ‘She used to come out when she would hear jeeps coming in and walk on the kaccha road as if she wanted everyone to see her, he added. Majumdar pointed out, ‘A tiger does not generally live beyond 12 years as it becomes difficult for them to defend their territory. However, in the case of Collarwall, she dominated the prey-rich base of the core zone in Pench, raising her cubs there. But, over the years, she was injured seriously while defending her territory!
T-15 was one of the first tigress that was collared inside Pench on March 11, 2008, by Majumdar, who was then working as a scientist with the Wildlife Institute of India, thereby earning her the title Collarwali.
‘On May 20, 2008, we spotted her with three cubs. This was her first litter but none of them survived. On October 25 the same year, she gave birth to four cubs – three males and one female – and raised them successfully; Majumdar added. Over the years, Collarwali gave birth to 29 cubs of which 25 have survived successfully. The glory of Collarwali still lives on as one of her cubs, a tigress, who was relocated to Panna tiger reserve, has also given birth to five cubs in one litter. Other male cubs of Collarwali now dominate Pench and its adjoining territory in Maharashtra as well. She is the pride of Madhya Pradesh, Majumdar said.