The big cats of Corbett will soon find a new home in Uttarakhand.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked the state forest department to speed up the ground work for relocation of four tigers from the highly congested Corbett landscape to Rajaji National Park, which has 15 felines.
Once the step is taken, most probably by the end of the year, it will be the first relocation of tigers in India to a habitat that already has big cats.
In Madhya Pradesh’s Panna and Rajasthan’s Sariska, the translocation happened after the native big cats vanished, allegedly due to poaching.
Officials of the Uttarakhand forest department said work for relocation has been accelerated.
The officers will start scat analysis (analysis of faecal matter to determine food habits and collection of DNA samples) of two tiger couples in association with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to confirm genetic diversity.
Rajaji, the 48th tiger reserve of the country, has nearly 15 tigers — two in the western part (570 sqkm) and the remaining 13 in the eastern part (150 sqkm).
A 1.2km long and 3km wide corridor divides the reserve, disallowing to and fro movement of striped cats. Owing to this reason, breeding has not been reported in the western part in the past decade. Due to the presence of two females, translocation was proposed in the area.
Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife warden, said: “We are preparing an action plan for submission to NTCA for written approval. We received in-principle approval last year. Soon, scat analysis of identified tigers in Corbett landscape, which includes Ramnagar, Haldwani, Lansdowne, Terai East, West and Central divisions, will start with the help of WII.”
Khati said the landscape supports sink population of tigers, source of which is Corbett, and scat analysis is needed to confirm genetic variation between the existing and introduced population to avoid inbreeding.