The death of Qualji’s reigning tigress Meera (T37) and companion of the area’s formidable male Fateh (T42) was an unexpected and saddening event. The official report of the autopsy is still awaited, nonetheless from statements issued by officials after the post-mortem we believe that the death was caused by multiple organ failure leading to a massive cardiac arrest. Cirrhosis of the liver, excessive fat deposits and a subsequent haemorrhaging of vital organs compounded the problem. No traces of toxins were found in the body.
Beyond the medical reports and the post-mortem analysis is the need to understand the gravity of losing a young tigress (she was nearly 6). The loss of a female tiger – albeit to natural causes – in the prime of her breeding life is a tragedy for the world of conservation, because there is relatively little one can do to avert a natural, invisible illness. There will always be rare occurrences like this one, in which the symptoms of fatality are not discernible. It is therefore crucial that the means and methods thought of and employed, to protect critically endangered species from visible and potentially obvious vulnerabilities are constantly revised and given the best possible support.
For now Qualji’s ravines and crannies may have gone quieter as the spine shattering roars and haunting moans of Meera will no longer resound between those hills that were her home. However, we must remember and hope that even the silence will not remain forever. Nature’s timescale is so different to ours and before long there will be another tiger to take the place of the Meera who has gone. Not just another tiger but a unique member of this persecuted species. The Meera we knew was one of the biggest tigresses we have ever seen; reticent, aggressive, vitality unleashed and everything a tiger should be. We must ensure we keep Qualji and Ranthambhore safe and secure; a space sanctified so that another tiger can call it home, in another time…
Written by Yusuf Ansari
Photography by Dr. Amitabh Dwivedi