To paraphrase The Proclaimers: this tiger walked 403.5 miles, then walked 403.5 more, just to be the big cat who walked 807 miles to fall down at his mate’s door.
Meet C1: a two-and-a-half-year-old male tiger who’s fresh off undertaking the longest walk ever recorded in India, travelling 807 miles (1,300km) in just five months.
After leaving its home in a wildlife sanctuary in the western state of Maharashtra in June this year fitted with a radio collar, the tiger roamed across two Indian states – believed to be looking for prey, territory or a mate.
Despite crossing farms, highways and water, C1 only came into contact with humans once – the tiger ‘accidentally injured’ a person part of a group exploring the area where the animal was resting, according to the BBC.
In his travels, the tiger hasn’t moved in a ‘linear manner’ – over the five months, C1 prowled through Maharashtra and the neighbouring state, Telangana. Just recently, he was spotted in another wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra. According to GPS satellite tracking, he’s been recorded in more than 5,000 locations in the past nine months.
Dr Bilal Habib, a senior biologist with the Wildlife Institute of India, told the BBC:
The tiger is possibly looking for territory, food and a mate. Most of the potential tiger areas [in India] are full and new tigers have to explore more. People don’t even know that this tiger is travelling in the backyard.
To stay safe, the tiger has been mostly hiding during the day and hunting at night, killing wild pigs and cattle for food.
However, C1 may not be on our radar soon – due to his extensive travelling, his radio collar’s battery has been drained by 80% (and I doubt he has a portable power bank on him).
While there’s only been the one incident – otherwise, no other serious conflict with humans – wildlife officials suspect they may need to capture the animal and relocate it to a nearby forest to ‘avoid any untoward accidents’.
Unlike the doom and gloom of animal populations recently, tiger numbers have actually increased across India. However, their habitat is shrinking and there isn’t always a sufficient amount of prey, according to experts.
For a tiger to thrive in the wild, they require a breeding prey population of 500 animals in its territory to ensure a ‘food bank’. It’s believed C1 was looking for plentiful grub in his travels, as well as a mate.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.