After months of delay, the Rajasthan Government is finally set to relocate two more tigers--a male and female--from Ranthambore to Sariska national park by the first week of July as suggested by the Centre.
"We have been given permission by the Centre to translocate felines in the first week of July, when the weather is most suited.
"Moreover, a team comprising Aparajita Dutta from the National Conservation Trust and AJT John Singh, former professor of the Wildlife Trust of India has submitted a list of ten probable tigers in Ranthambore reserve, of which two will be zeroed in for translocation," a senior official from Rajasthan wildlife department said.
"As only two tigers have to be shifted from Ranthambore to Sarsika, the wide choice of ten tigers would prevent a delay in executing the big cat relocation plan as approved by the Centre," he said.
The second-phase of the translocation plan got stalled following reports of genetic incompatibility among the tigers--a male and two females --moved to Sariska two years ago after they failed to breed.
However, a similar translocation programme in Panna reserve in Madhya Pradesh has started showing results with the birth of three cubs recently.
The official said there was no genetic threat to the Sariska big cats.
If healthy tigers are taken from locations with bigger population variability as in case of Ranthambore tigers, now in Sariska, the question of genetic incompatibility does not arise. Moreover, genetic studies will need lot of investment and time, an expert on the subject said.
Of the three tigers relocated earlier in Sariska, the first was a male tiger. It was airlifted from Ranthambore in June 2008, followed by two tigresses.
"We already have other requisite permission like use of helicopter and hence the relocation of new pair would not take much time. The researchers from Wildlife Institute of India and Rajasthan wildlife department are already camping in Sariska, tracking the movements of the ten tigers identified," the official said.
Sariska's tiger population was wiped out a few years ago due to rampant poaching, while Ranthambore has nearly 40 of the wild cats.