Bina 1 and Bina 2 are two-year-old sub-adult tigresses who were transferred from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska tiger reserve last week, when their names stirred a controversy.
Wildlife conservationists and activists said tigers are named in accordance with a specific coding procedure; all tigers in Ranthambhore, for example, are in the T series — T24, T25 or T26, etc. — in forest department records, and those in Sariska are ST1, ST2, etc. Bina 1 and Bina 2 are, in forest records, B1 and B2.
Local people and forest officials sometimes have their own names for tigers in their areas — perhaps Sundari, Machhli or Zalim. But no tiger has ever been named after a human personality before.
Kak does have a connection with the two Binas, though. Their mother, a Kachida tigress named T5, had fallen ill soon after delivering them, and Kak had ordered immediate surgery on her. T5 could not be saved, but the efforts of the forest department ensured both her cubs overcame the odds and survived.
According to officials, the minister believed she had a role in the cubs’ survival. Said a senior official posted at the park at that time, “The minister took special care of the cubs. When they were about five months old, she suggested that they be named after her. We couldn’t agree more.”
Kak said she had had no role in the naming of the tigers; however, she said tigers liked to be called by names that were less impersonal.
“How can I name them?” she said. “You should ask the locals who named them after me, and what I had done for them and their mother. You have pet dogs and call them by really affectionate names, so why not tigers? I named a tiger Noor because of her looks, another I named Zalim because of his aggression... Let the government keep codes for them, but I will continue to refer to them by the names I like. If you call tigers by affectionate names, you will see the difference in their response. They too do not like being referred to by letters and numbers.”
Babu Lal Jaju, state coordinator of People for Animals, said, “Animals are never named after personalities and this is an aberration. Even the coding is tampered with. When all other tigers have a T or ST code, these two have a B code. Animal lovers and wildlife activists condemn this sort of flattery. Let us not politicise our animals.”
BJP spokesperson Jyoti Kiran said, “A procedure is followed in naming animals, particularly tigers. This is a very cheap trick by the minister to be popular in the jungle. Earlier only roads and buildings were named after personalities but now even animals are not being spared. At this rate we will soon find many Rahuls and Sonias in the jungle.”