After Sariska fiasco, DNA tests for tigers before shifting
Following a Hindustan Times report on the genetic incompatibility of tigers that were shifted to Sariska National Park in Rajasthan last year, the NTCA has ordered DNA tests on tigers of Ranthambore and Sariska, to ascertain breeding compatibility before shifting any more of them. Jay Mazoomdar reports.india Updated: Feb 03, 2010 08:28 IST
Following a Hindustan Times report on the genetic incompatibility of tigers that were shifted to Sariska National Park in Rajasthan last year, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has ordered DNA tests on tigers of Ranthambore and Sariska, to ascertain breeding compatibility before shifting any more of them.
The investigation (Rajasthan govt sent tiger siblings to repopulate Sariska, June 29, 2009) exposed how tigers were picked up arbitrarily for translocation without genetic or spatial analysis. Following the report, the translocation process in Rajasthan was put on hold.
Between June 2008 and February 2009, two sisters and their half-brother were sent to Sariska. These tigers have so far failed to breed.
Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh didn’t make this mistake. With two tigers sourced from Bandhavgarh and Kanha reserves, it got a third one from Pench in November last year — five months after the HT investigation — to ensure genetic diversity.
The decision on mandatory DNA testing of Ranthambore tigers was taken an NTCA meeting last month, attended by Forests and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. The NTCA has already issued an order, designating Bangalore’s National Centre for Biological Science to conduct the tests to identify individual tigers with breeding compatibility.
“The Hon’ble Minister for Environment and Forests has directed DNA testing of all three tigers already translocated to Sariska… through fecal samples, besides similar testing for the two tigers earmarked at Ranthambore for translocation to Sariska,” says the note.
“The process of DNA analysis will take time. However, the translocation programme will continue and our priority is to determine the compatibility of a couple of young tigers that have been moving in the outskirts of Ranthambore. The future of these tigers is uncertain due to heavy biotic pressure (human presence) in these areas and they will definitely have a better chance of survival in Sariska,” added NTCA member-secretary Dr Rajesh Gopal.
(The writer is an independent journalist)