Active Management - Kanha Tiger Reserve

Kanha, with its long managerial experience, is expected to play an important role in active wildlife management, which may include a number of futuristic/ anticipatory initiatives. Some notable active wildlife management practices in the past around five years are as under:

  • Tiger Rearing and Rewilding:

In the backdrop of discovery of orphaned tiger cubs due to infighting or death of mother-tigresses at Kanha, the idea of rearing, training and rewilding such cubs took shape several years back. Accordingly, a specially designed large in-situ enclosure was constructed in the tiger reserve. The enclosure holds a small number of chital that can be driven into an inner enclosure for predation by tigers as and when required. Besides, a small quarantine house was also constructed adjacent to this large enclosure. A total of 17 PTZ (Pan, Tilt and Zoom) CCTV cameras were also installed at 7 points to record activities 24x7 and minimize human imprinting on the tigers.

Initially, when the cubs to be rewilded are small, they are fed on milk, egg and meshed meat and live small-sized goats. Later, when they become large and are released into this enclosure, they gradually start killing chital and wild pigs, specially driven into the enclosure. When their hunting technique is gradually refined to perfection, they are considered fit for release into the wild. In this way, all these animals are spared the confines of a zoo, so dreary life for such magnificent animals. The Kanha management has successfully reared and trained the 9 tiger cubs and translocated them to protected areas.

  • Translocation of Gaur:

When the gaur (Bos gaurus gaurus) population at Bandhavgarh went locally extinct after 1995, it was decided that the protected area would be restocked with support from wildlife veterinarians of South Africa. The meticulously planned field operations involved a wide range of preparations, including a detailed protocol, procurement of all sorts of veterinary drugs and equipment, the making of specially designed large recovery and transportation vehicles and holding boma (large steel cages used in South Africa) and training of field personnel for discharging assigned duties and ensuring mutual understanding/ coordination etc. Eventually, in January, 2011 and March, 2012, field operations were carried out to capture, restrain, load and translocate a total of 50 gaur from Kanha to Bandhavgarh. These animals are currently doing well, and there are now around 150 animals in the tiger reserve.

  • Translocation of Hard Ground Barasingha:

It was felt that the small barasingha population was still faced with several threats, including local extinction due to some epidemic. In this backdrop, it was decided that a few barasingha should first be introduced into the Van Vihar national park by non-invasive capture without using drugs/ chemicals, and after refining and improving upon the entire operation, some animals be reintroduced into the Satpuda tiger reserve.

Specially designed in-situ enclosures with improved barasingha specific habitat were erected at Van Vihar and Satpuda, and the boma method was employed to capture barasingha at Kanha. A large transportation truck was also customized to carry around 15-20 captured barasingha comfortably.

The transportation truck was closely fitted to a ramp camouflaged with plastered soil and grass to make it look natural to the animals. In this way, the transportation truck, the ramp and the chute of boma became one composite structure at the capture site. Several non-invasive capture operations were carried out between January, 2015 and February, 2022, and a total of 85 animals were successfully transported to the Van Vihar national park (7) and Satpura tiger reserve (78). No mortality took place in these operations.

  • Reintroduction of Blackbucks:

One of the common antelopes, blackbucks (Antelope cervicapra) were once distributed in several valley villages in the Kanha landscape.  Till a few years back, even the core zone also supported a small population of the antelope. The population, however, declined steadily, and the last animal was seen in 2004. The small population was confined only to the Kanha meadows. The Kanha management planned to enhance the biodiversity of the protected area by reintroducing some founder-animals. The entire capture operation was planned in November, 2011 and carried out in agricultural fields close to Seoni town.

The captured animals were shut in specially designed crates and translocated to the Kanha tiger reserve. A total of 50 animals were released into the barasingha fencing for acclimatization and future release into the wild. Presently, all the animals have been released in the wild.

  • Translocation of Chital:

The chital (Axis axis) is the most numerous of ungulate species at Kanha. However, as a result of priority based interventions, the Banjar valley gradually registered a steady increase of chital, but the Halon valley had been supporting relatively small populations. As newly relocated village sites were gradually getting integrated into natural grassland ecosystem, the release of several hundred chital at these sites was thought to accelerate an early build-up of ungulate population. The Kanha management obtained permission from the competent authority to translocate 1500 chital from the Banjar valley to several evacuated village sites. This proactive management practice will not only allow these sites to recover faster, but will also provide enough prey to carnivore population.  So far, 1426 chital have been shifted to the Phen/ Halon valley sites.