Legendary 'Collarwali' Tigress passes away in Madhya Pradesh: All you need to know of the big cat who gave birth to record 29 cubs

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"She lived like a queen for 17 years in Pench and gave birth to 29 cubs. End of an era."

"The Queen is no more. Died because of old age. Leaving behind her legacy and her 29 cubs. Her contribution is immense in restoring back the ecological balance by improving the tiger population."

"Supermom of Pench TR, T15 aka 'collarwali' left the mowgliland forever. RIP TIGRESS."

Twitter has been abuzz and tributes have been pouring in from all over after 'Collarwali', the famous tigress of Madhya Pradesh's Pench Tiger Reserve, passed away on Saturday evening. The 17-year-old tigress, also known as T15, died of old age, according to officials.

So, who is this tigress and why was she so popular?

Who is ‘Collarwali’ aka T15?

Collarwali was one of the four cubs born to famous tigress T-7 in September 2005.

As a female cub, the tigress was radio-collared in March 2008. While the radio collar stopped functioning later, she was again radio-collared in January 2010 and that's how she earned her name 'Collarwali'.

‘Collarwali’ passing away at 17, is a record of sorts, as experts note that the average age of a tiger is about 12 years.

Collarwali became famous and holds the distinguished record of giving birth to 29 cubs, earning the tag of ‘supermom’.

The tigress, also known as T-15, had given birth to 29 cubs in eight litters during eleven years. Image Courtesy: @ParveenKaswan

According to officials, she had given birth to 29 cubs in eight litters during 11 years — between 2008 and 2018. Of the 29 cubs, 25 have survived.

'Collarwali' had first given birth to three cubs in May 2008, but they could not survive. On 23 October 2010, she gave a litter of five cubs (four females and one male).

An Indian Express report speaking to Dr Aniruddha Majumdar, a scientist with the State Forest Research Institute, who had tracked 'Collarwali' for seven years to study breeding, said: "There is hardly any record of a tigress giving birth to five cubs at one go. She raised all of them. Over the years, she gave birth to 29 cubs…25 survived."

And in December 2018, she delivered the last of her four cubs, making officials believe that this could be a record.

But, it’s not just her ‘supermom’ tag that made her famous and popular among conservationists and tourists alike.

According to Sanjay Tiwari, a local social activist, Collarwali loved tourists and would walk out on to the kaccha road when she heard jeeps coming, as if she wanted to be seen. She was a tourist lover, he said.

Through her 29 cubs, Collarwali had greatly contributed to the tiger conservation efforts in India.

In fact, in 2008, when Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh became tiger-less, it was one of the female cubs of Collarwali that was sent to Panna for reviving the big cat’s population there.

Cause of death

The 17-year-old tigress was last seen on 14 January and, according to the office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), she was looking very weak due to old age.

Alok Mishra, field director, Pench Tiger Reserve, was quoted as saying, "The tigress was ill due to old age. She was last spotted near Bhura Dev Nullah on January 14. She was spotted lying down. She was under the observation of veterinary doctors and was unable to walk. She passed away at 6.15 pm on Saturday."

“The exact cause of the death will be known after a post mortem but prima facie it appears to be due to multi-organ failure caused by old-age,” he added.

Last rites of tigress Collarwali of Pench. Image Courtesy: @ParveenKaswan/Twitter

She was cremated on Sunday at the hands of Shanta Bai, a local tribal leader who heads the Ecovikas Samiti and has played an important role in improving living conditions among tribals.

The carcass was disposed of as per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines and its viscera has been sent to laboratories for examination.

Tributes pour in

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan paid tribute to the tigress.

"Tribute to the 'Super Tigress Mom' Collarwali of @PenchMP, the pride of Madhya Pradesh and mother to 29 cubs, who played an important role in achieving the Tiger State status for MP. The forests of Madhya Pradesh will always resonate with the roar of the cubs of the 'Queen' of Pench Tiger Reserve," Chouhan said in a tweet.

Grieving the death of the legendary tigress, MP home minister Narottam Mishra tweeted on Sunday, “Last salute to Super Mom. Any talk on the prized Tiger State status of Madhya Pradesh will be incomplete without the mention of the important contribution of the Super Mom who gave birth to 29 cubs.”

Many others also paid tribute to the tigress.

"Called as mother of Pench. Just imagine how her bloodline has helped in bouncing back the tiger population in India," tweeted IFS officer Parveen Kaswan.

Tiger population in India

In 2018, the government announced the population had risen to 2,967 in 2018 from a record low of 1,411 in 2006.

India is home to around 75 percent of the world's tigers.

With inputs from agencies

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Legendary 'Collarwali' Tigress passes away in Madhya Pradesh: All you need to know of the big cat who gave birth to record 29 cubs
Legendary 'Collarwali' Tigress passes away in Madhya Pradesh: All you need to know of the big cat who gave birth to record 29 cubs
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