Ranthambore (Ranthambore National Park), near the town of Sawai Madhopur, the park being the former hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur until the time of India’s Independence. It has a formidable fort having been a focal point of the historical developments of Rajasthan. The fort is known for the glory and valor of Hammir Dev of the Chauhan dynasty.
Ranthambore National Park lies at the edge of a plateau and is bounded to the north by the Banas River and to the south by theChambal River. It is named after the historic Ranthambhore fortress, which lies within the park.
Ranthambore is best known for its large tiger population. As park tourism and the population of neighbouring villages increased, there were more frequent fatal human-tiger interactions and poaching. The Indian government started Project Tiger in 1973 and allotted an area of 60 mi2 of the park as a tiger sanctuary. This area later expanded to become what is now the Ranthambore National Park.
In 2005, there were 26 tigers living in the park. This was significantly lower than the recorded tiger population of the reserve in 1982, which stood at 44.
According to non-government sources there were 34 adult tigers in the Ranthambore National Park in 2008, and more than 14 cubs. This increase was attributed largely to sustained efforts by forest officials to curb poaching. Villagers in the region were being given incentives to stay out of the park, and surveillance cameras were also fitted across the reserve. The Indian government committed US$153 million for these efforts.
During the past few years, there has been a decline in the tiger population in Ranthambore due to poaching and other reasons.
A tigress known as “Lady of the Lakes” was separated from her parents at a very young age because of poaching. The young tigress was named Machli after the mark on her body that resembles a fish. She gave birth to three female cubs, one being dubbed ‘Machli – The Junior’. The father of Machli Jr. died early from an unknown disease, as confirmed by forest officer Fateh Singh Rathore. Machli Jr. mated with the male tiger Bumburam and gave birth to two cubs, Slant Ear and Broken Tail. Baccha is believed to be her grandson. At 17 years old, Machli Sr. is the world’s oldest tigress. Machli recently went missing, raising concern among forest officials, as hunting is difficult at her age. After twenty-six days Machli was spotted and located by forest officials. Machli’s daughter T19 is the current queen tigress of Ranthambore. She recently gave birth to four cubs, with three surviving.
Another popular tigress from Ranthambore is tigress T39, also known as Mala or Noor. Her name comes from the decorative bead-like stripes on her body. She was born to tigress T-13 and fathered by T-12. In March and April 2014, she was seen with her second litter of three cubs. Noor is 6 years old and her son, T72, or Sultan, is from her first litter and is approximately three years old.
Broken Tail was given international publicity in a film made about his life. He left the park area and traveled from Ranthambore to Darra, where he was killed by a train while crossing the railway tracks. The documentary film called Broken Tail features his last journey and has been shown worldwide on many TV channels, including BBC, PBS, CBC, and RTÉ among others, and won the top awards at two of the world’s most prestigious wildlife film festivals.