Collarwali - The Epitaph of an Empress


Blog :: Wildlife

Collarwali’, ‘Supermom’, ‘Queen of Pench

Strolling through the jungle, T-15 with her majestic aura would find several admirers beyond the border of Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. T-15 or Collarwali, as she was lovingly called, was more than just a tigress roaming in the jungle. A popular modern-day icon, the tigress, (who had a tracking radio collar on her) was the face of Madhya Pradesh's tiger reserves. Her popularity was evident in the profuse outpouring of grief from across the world on her recent demise. The tigress (about 16.5-years-old) breathed her last on January 15.  

Social media was filled with tributes from travellers, wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers and also celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Dairy giant Amul also paid a fitting tribute to Collarwali via their topical advertisements on social media and print media. Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi remembered the famous tigress in his radio address, "Mann ki Baat".

Collarwali, along with her mother, Badi Mata, were subjects of interest for wildlife enthusiasts around the world, piquing the interest of a team from the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC). She along with her littermates was featured in the wildlife special 'Spy in the Jungle' that saw the reserve gain popularity with visitors pouring in to catch a glimpse of the tigress.

Owing to her sheer size she was often mistaken for a male. During her time even when she was nearing the end of her life, she was able to assert her dominance in the Pench forest. Unlike other tigresses, Collarwali imbibed the spirit of individuality amongst her cubs. Usually, tigresses would mother their cubs till a period of two years but Collarwali would only mother her cubs for an year and a half, leaving them to learn to survive in the jungle on their own. Her unusual tactic helped her cubs to become stronger tigers, who are fending for themselves not only in Pench but in other adjoining forests as well. Like Collarwali, her cubs have played a significant role in increasing the population of the tigers in areas where there was a rapid decrease in Tiger population. T-6, one of Collarwali's cubs, plays a significant role in repopulating Panna which saw a rapid decline in tiger numbers.

During her life, Collarwali forged a connection with wildlife enthusiasts. Fearless and oozing confidence in every step, she often approached vans of tourists, and graced them with spectacular photo opportunities! Delightful images of her alone or with her cubs (29 of them in total!) can be found around the world. She was often photographed with her cubs walking near a lake or playing with them and enjoying the camera spotlight.

As the world mourns her loss, the country eulogises the imprint left by the magnificent tigress!