Absolutely true…a Tiger camera trapped at the altitude of Snow Leopards. Is the duel inevitable now? Who will win the contest? The dark ghost of the Himalayas or the roaring beast of the plains? What if there are more Tiger and Snow Leopard in the area? This possibility cannot be ruled out as of now. Is it really good news? Well, not bad either. The most noteworthy would be to go on a Tiger Safari in the area and see the Snow Leopard.
Having excelled in staying in the deltas, dry deciduous forest, almost desert-like conditions, in rain forests, now the Tiger has been camera trapped in the regions of Askot in the upper reaches of Pithoragarh district in Uttrakhand at a height of 12000 feet. Sometime back Tigers were tracked at an altitude of 13000 feet in Bhutan. While the highest altitude the Tigers got in India was at 10000 feet in Sikkim. A male Tiger’s pug marks were also seen in the snow near Jelepla in 2009. Occasionally Tigers are sighted at 6000-8000 feet in Sikkim. While in Nepal Tigers are found at an altitude of 12000 feet or above as well.
But why Tigers are moving to higher altitudes?
Is there some change happening in the territorial patterns of the Tigers or they are just claiming the lost land? Maybe yes for both. But why, is the next logical question. Simply due to immense bio-mass pressure on their home in the plains. Tigers are well adopted cat and can survive in many different types of habitat and climate types. Major Tiger habitat in the lower reaches is shrinking and they need to move elsewhere to survive. Let us not forget the fact that the Tiger is a fast breeding and a highly territorial cat. When it doesn’t find enough space to share with other Tigers it wonders around in search of new home.
One must also realize that state of Uttrakhand is mostly hilly, with sparse population. Hence big cats find peace, prey, and parking space much easily here compared to lower altitudes.
Just few months back Snow Leopards were camera trapped in the upper reaches of Uttrakhand. This simply suggests that the Tiger and Snow Leopard are happy with their new found home in the upper reaches of Uttrakhand. After all, the forests of Corbett, and other areas below are crowded for them as far as Tigers, and tourists are concerned.
Though the Tigress has marked her new found home as taken, I pray there is no untoward incident with humans, but livestock with be in their radar now.
Hope the Tigers and Snow Leopards thrive in their newfound home.
- *P.S the above image is of the Tigress marking her territory in Kanha National Park. Images of the Tigress marking her territory at the high altitude is not available yet.