It is a mixed bag for future of tigers.
A captive bred tigress in Panna, Madhya Pradesh, has become world’s first big cat to deliver in wild but pregnancy of a relocated tigress in Sariska, Rajasthan, has failed for the second time, a setback to the breeding efforts.
Panna and Sariska are India’s big cat experiment labs as both lost them due to poaching and the government re-introduced tigers from similar landscape to create a new pool.
On Wednesday, Panna delivered the world’s first --- two cubs from a six-year-old captive tigress, who was orphaned six years ago and was reared in an enclosure in Kanha tiger reserve. She and her two siblings – a brother and a sister --- were trained for hunting in the enclosure.
After a positive report from Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the tigresses were shifted to Panna in March 2011 and the brother, who was injured, to Van Vihar, Bhopal.
“The tigress has been spotted with two cubs after mating with a wild tiger,” said R S Murthy, field director of Panna Tiger Reserve that had no tigers in 2009. In all seven tigers have been relocated to Panna.
Since the two tigresses landed, there was around the clock monitoring through Global Positioning System (GPS). In September 2011, the elder tigress, which created history, lost the radio collar and since then she was being monitored manually. The forest guards were able to spot and record the presence of two cubs with the mother on Wednesday. “It is for first time captive bred tigress has adapted completely to wild conditions,” Murthy said.
But, the said news is that her sister had been badly injured in a brawl with another tiger. “She will take four to five days to recover,” he said, adding that she was slow in adapting to wild conditions unlike her elder sister.
That has not happened in Sariska, which lost all tigers in 2004. A tiger and two tigresses were shifted from Rathambore and only one tigress had conceived twice. “She has again lost her baby,” an official of National Tiger Conservation Authority said, adding that the Wildlife Institute of India has been asked to investigate the reasons for repeated abortions. However, officials said the high human presence in Sariska was causing problems for the big cats there.