Ranthambore National Park is a vast wildlife reserve near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India. It is a former royal hunting ground and home to tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. Its landmarks include the imposing 10th-century Ranthambore Fort, on a hilltop, and the Ganesh Mandir temple. Also in the park, Padam Talao Lake is known for its abundance of water lilies.
Ranthambore National Park hosts deciduous forests and wildlife such as Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, rhesus macaque, mugger crocodile and chital. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in India. Ranthambore is known for its large tiger population. During the past few years, there has been a decline in the tiger population in Ranthambhore due to poaching and other reasons.
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. They were successful enough to make Ranthambhore eligible to participate in the Sariska Tiger Reserve relocation program.
The first aerial relocation, of the male tiger (Dara) from Ranthambhore to Sariska, was done on 28 June 2008 by Wing Commander Vimal Raj, using a Mi-17 helicopter. This translocated tiger died on 15 November 2010 due to poisoning. A tigress known as “The 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. 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. At 20 years old, Machli Sr. was the world’s oldest living tigress and she died in August 2016. She was the most famous tigress in the world holding the title of the most photographed tigress in the world. She was single handedly instrumental in increasing the flow of tourists from all over the world to Ranthambore National Park. Machli’s daughter T19 (Krishna or Unis) is the current queen tigress of Ranthambore. In 2014, she gave birth to four cubs fathered by Star or Zalim (she was seen mating with both of them), with three surviving, these cubs are now known as T-84, T-83 and T-85. She became the longest living tigress in wild environment recorded till date. 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 November 2016, she was seen with her fourth litter of two cubs. Noor is 9 years old and her son, T72, or Sultan, is from her first litter and is approximately six 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. T – 25 also known as Dollar male or Zalim is another famous tiger in Ranthambore, he sent observers and tiger researchers in a tizzy when he fathered his 2 female cubs as their mother died of a disease, this two cubs are now known as Bina 1 and Bina 2 and both were relocated to Sariska National Park in November 2012 when they were 2 years old. According to the 2014 census of tigers, there were 62 tigers in Ranthambore National Park.The number of tigers was 48 in 2013 and 25 in 2005.