India

Known for its marathon walk across 3,000 km, Walker the tiger not spotted for over a month

WALKER, the tiger that came to be known for its marathon walk of over 3,000 km, has not been seen in the Dnyanganga Wildlife Sanctuary in Buldana direct, where it had settled down for more than a year after its epic journey, for over a month now.

Melghat Tiger Reserve Field Director, Srinivas Reddy, told “Walker was last seen about a month ago… it has not been seen since then. We guess that it might have moved out in search of a mate.”

Walker had started walking from the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Yavatmal district, where it was born, in June 2019 to reach Dnyanganga Sanctuary in December 2019 after several twists and turns across eight districts of Maharashtra and Telangana. Fitted with a radio collar, the tiger could be tracked till February 2020, when its radio collar was taken off by remote control. Since then, the tiger had been stationary in the sanctuary.

Incidentally, Walker was the first tiger to have been seen in Dnyanganga Sanctuary. This had excited local politicians, with Buldana Shiv Sena MP Prataprao Jadhav pitching for providing the animal a mate and turning the sanctuary into a tiger-bearing area, which, he said, would raise tourism potential of the area and generate employment.

A committee, set up under Reddy to suggest whether a mate could be provided to Walker, gave a positive report, but Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Nitin Kakodkar is yet to give consent.

Kakodkar said providing a mate to Walker alone won’t help. “Dnyanganga is an island. We have to also think of the future when the tiger population grows. Tigers should be able to move in and out thorough corridors. Unless we create congenial conditions for future management, the idea to provide a mate would serve little purpose,” he said.

“I have not yet received any response on the issue. But now Walker is more than three years old and needs a mate. So, it is likely that it could have moved out in search of one,” said Reddy.

Asked if there is any way Walker can be tracked now, Kakodkar said, “We had studied its movement using a radio collar. After that, we kept tracking the animal using cameras traps. Now, we have let Walker lead its life as it deems fit. In any case, we can’t track a tiger all its life. That’s not possible. But we will keep seeking information about if and when it is seen by people or our staff.”

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