Keladevi Sanctuary, the northern portion of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve is not known for its ideal wildlife habitat, because although it makes up almost half of the reserve's official borders it is infact home to numerous villages and thousands of cattle, making it less than ideal for an elusive predator. In fact in 2012, it was officially credited with only one tigress living within its boundaries.
The fact that T71, the three year old male tiger, a cub from Hosnara’s (T30) third litter who lived in the little visited area of Lahpur in the eastern Khandar region of the park, has been photographed by camera trap proves the male squeeze that is happening in this part of the park, now full to bursting point with tigers, though the new census out this month will provide the real evidence.
Male tigers generally do have to move away from their original home ranges once they mature, and often spend years as nomads, trying to find suitable territory to oversee and live within. These male’s chances of survival are small, given that often they have to exist in and around human settlements and heavily cultivated farmlands, stealing they livestock because little natural prey now exists in these fragmented forest patches, carved up by roads and denuded of wood, and are very likely to be poisoned by angry or scared villagers or targeted by poaching gangs, who so often work in these unguarded landscapes, away from prying eyes.
T71’s existence mirrors the life of so many of India’s tigers today – with fewer and fewer forests capable of supporting the big cats.