Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve
Mukundra Hills is near the Kota city in Rajasthan. It has an area of 759.99 km² and was the hunting ground of the Kota's Maharaj. The other name of Mukundra Hills is Darrah National Park. Darrah means 'a gorge'.
This place is mountainous and has a variety of plants, trees, and animals. It has grasslands in between and also many dry deciduous trees. Four rivers flow in this region, the rivers are-
Most of the species were recorded as tree species viz. Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd. (Mimosaceae), Anthocephalus sp. (Rubiaceae), Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. (Moraceae), Aegle marmelos (L.) Corr. (Rutaceae), Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Meliaceae), Bombax ceiba L. (Malvaceae), Cassia fistula L. (Caesalpiniaceae), Citrus aurantifolia (Christ.) Swingle (Rutaceae), Delonix regia (L.) Gamble (Caesalpiniaceae), Dalbergia sissoo Roxb.(Papilionaceae), Phyllanthus Emblica L. (Euphorbiaceae), Eucalyptus sp. (Myrtaceae), Ficus religiosa L. (Moraceae), Ficus glomerata Roxb. (Moraceae), Ficus benghalensis L. (Moraceae).
The Indian Wolf and the Indian Leopard the major carnivores in this reserve. The prey here includes the Chital, sambar deer, wild boar, and the nilgai. Sloth Bear and the chinkara(Indian gazelle) are also found here. Reptiles here include the Mugger crocodile and also the gharial.
MT-1 at a Water Hole
Tiger Reintroduction :-
Mukundra Hills has become the 3rd tiger reserve of Rajasthan followed by Ranthambore National Park and Sariska National Park. Mukundra Hill Tiger Reserve got its First Tiger from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Later, Tigress T-106 was relocated to Mukundra Hill Tiger Reserve from Ranthambore National Park on Tuesday 18th November 2018. She was renamed MT-2 and became a mother of 2 cubs. This was a proud moment for the Rajasthan government.
Current Situation :-
On 23rd July 2020, MT-3(male tiger) was discovered dead. On the 3rd of August MT-2 was discovered dead too. She died in a territorial fight against another member of its species. This news was very shocking for everyone. Both of MT-2's cubs who are now 6 months old are alive but 1 cub is missing. Indian Forest Service officer Akshay Singh said that tigers were translocated in a hurry. This was a mistake as tigers had started preying on the domestic livestock. In response to this, Indian Forest Service officer Sunayan Sharma, who was the director of the operation of tiger reintroduction in Sariska Tiger Reserve said that even when the prey density was low in Mukundra Hills, tigers should be relocated without any delay because when he was in Sariska, politicians had started saying that when there are no tigers left here, then there is no point of protecting this place. He has mentioned this instance in his book 'Sariska: The Tiger Reserve Roars Again. He said that the prey base can be improved later on but not after the jungle is destroyed. He said that the main reason behind these deaths is the improper management and not timely recruitment of important posts in Rajasthan like the forest range officer. MT - 4, another tigress, had given birth to a cub but now it is dead. Soon, tiger MT-1 was also discovered dead and it was discovered that now MT-4 had also developed injuries and so, she has transported away to a Biological Park for treatment. The population reduced from 6 in July 2020 to 1 in September2020. The causes of this decline should be studied properly so that it can be confirmed if Mukundra Hills is safe for the tigers if they are any relocated program in the future.
Should Tigers Come Back To Mukundra
Mukundra Hills provides a very good habitat and is one of the last tiger corridors in the world. Tiger moves large distances away from it's home if the forest becomes a home a large population of tigers and it doesn't have any place to settle, or when it is wanting to avoid human activities. Mukundra Hills is one of the last forest corridors in India which has good tiger habitat. As Mukundra Hills is well connected to many other forested areas like the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, which many Tiger reserves lack, it has the potential to become one of the best Tiger Reserves in India. At present, protecting tiger corridors is most important. Tiger corridors allow tigers to move from one forest to another which assures genetic stability. The small prey base is because of the large number of villages in Mukundra which is the only factor that needs to be worked upon. There is no other reason why the tiger population rose so quickly in Mukundra Hills as compared to the Sariska Tiger Reserve where tiger relocation was done for the World. At present, without any delay, more tigers should be relocated so that they breed and the Tiger Reserve will get it's tigers back.
MT-4 in Mukundra Hills. The Last Tiger Of Mukundra. Photo Credit :Times Of India Newspaper (TOI)