HYDERABAD: Tributes for Collarwali continue to pour in days after the tigress passed away. She was a tigress that was often talked about by wildlife photographers and was the pride of Madhya Pradesh. Called the ‘super mom’ tigress, she has left behind 29 cubs and every photographer, who captured her through their lens, teary-eyed.
Masood Hussain, a renowned wildlife photographer from the city, recalls capturing her in her natural habitat. “Whenever I went to shoot her, it was an amazing experience. I’d refer to her as Mataram. She was named Collarwali because she was video-collared for studies. It was quite disappointing to hear she’s no more. She was a popular tigress and the most-photographed one too. She gave birth to 29 cubs, that’s a great contribution towards the conservation of her species. She will always be remembered. She was bold and never shy of visiting tourists. She would show up very frequently, hence a lot of visiting tourists, including photographers, got a lot of pictures of her,” he says.
Wildlife photographer Pariksheet Devulapalli, who was fortunate enough to capture the tigress twice, says, “I clicked her for the first time in 2015. The second time was in January 2020 when her cubs had grown. We took five drives and saw Collarwali and her three cubs during the last one hour of our drive. She made three to four appearances, with her cubs playing with her.
We got a few emotional pictures. I feel so connected to tigers that every time I get a break, I rush to a tiger reserve. People did say that she was growing old and would not make it longer than a few days. But I was there last year and found that she had survived another year. Collarwali was always open to vehicles and never bothered when they were around her. She would get her cubs in the open area where people could see her. That is what was special about her,” recalls Pariksheet.
But, not everyone has been lucky to immortalise the tigress through their lens. Anjani Kumar Singamaneni regrets not having clicked her despite visiting Madhya Pradesh’s Pench Tiger Reserve. “It is always exciting to see a wild tiger in its natural habitat, every tiger and every sighting is always special. Each time it’s the same adrenaline rush, goosebumps and nervousness.
Every jungle has a showstopper with special charm during a certain time period. Some tigers go beyond this and become legends like Machli, B2, Charger, Ustad and Collarwali. She could be on the top of the list with her world record of 29 cubs and 16 years of survival in the wild. She is a major contributor for revenue and tourism in Pench. She also gave a great opportunity to field scientists and the forest department to study tiger behaviour, among other aspects, through the data collected from her radio collar. Unfortunately, even after seven drives into the jungles, I could not see her. This will always be a regret,” he says.
Collarwali, the tigress which passed away recently, was every wildlife photographer’s dream to click. Some city-based photographers share their experience of being in her presence, while others speak about their unfulfilled dream