Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tigers : The Territorial wars: Are they natural?

A 10 month old wounded tiger was recently found dead in the Pench tiger reserve, MP. In the absence of adequate area due to deforestation, such deaths due to territorial fights between tigers are increasingly becoming common.

Every ecosystem has a fixed limitation on the maximum number of inhabitants it can support, which is what we technically call its "carrying capacity".

Even though territorial fights are common among animals, and more so for highly territorial species like the tiger who keep on scent marking their territory and roam its periphery regularly, checking for any intrusions. (See the Sukhnidhey Films documentary  Sariska: A Reserve Reborn:

to watch this territorial behavior of tigers spraying urine to mark their territories!)

When the number of inhabitants exceeds the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, such fights become more common and no longer remain a natural phenomenon, being induced by human influences such as deforestation which reduces area of the forests that form the tiger habitat. The neighbour tigers come frequently in contact with each other and engage in fierce battles at much larger a rate than occurs naturally.

Of course we cannot intervene and prevent these fierce territorial fights which claim many lives (more so of the weaker competitors- the younger tigers)  , but we sure can relocate villages and bring more area under the reserves to provide sufficient isolation between neighbouring territories, leading to fewer, natural territorial fights.

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