Palamu reserve brings captive sambars to increase tiger prey base
The Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) authority has brought 16 sambars from Ranchi’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, popularly known as Birsa Zoo, to increase the prey base for the big cats in Jharkhand’s lone tiger den.
However, food, public distribution and consumer affairs minister Saryu Rai has raised objection over shifting of the animals from zoo to wild and termed it as gross of violation of wildlife norms.
The number of tigers in PTR has dropped to three, which has become cause for concern for authorities. They assign dwindling population of sambar the reason behind fall in numbers of big cats.
Now, the authorities have decided to increase the population of sambar in the reserve so that fodder could be provided to the tigers.
The zoo officials said altogether 16 sambhars, including 11 females and five males, have been provided to the PTR. Two more male sambars would be sent this month, a zoo official said.
The Birsa zoo officials said the sambar population has increased there. “Against the enclosure capacity of 30 in the zoo, the population of sambar has reached to 36,” said an official. Following this, the zoo authorities wrote to state forest department to shift the surplus sambars to the PTR, which was later accepted.
However, the minister said, “I had already raised objection and directed the PTR authority and forest department to strictly follow the guidelines and protocols of International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) before shifting.” He alleged that the authority neither followed the guideline nor it got required permission from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
“If sambar population has dwindled from the reserve area, the PTR authority should have declared it. Releasing captive animals in the wild to increase prey base for tigers is not a good idea,” Rai said, adding, “I am not against increasing prey base for tigers but it should be as per the rule.”
“No rule is followed in the tiger reserve,” he alleged.
Chief conservator of forest-cum-field director of PTR, MP Singh, said sambars were shifted to the reserve area following the standard operating protocol. The central zoo authority had approved the protocol of shifting deer and sambar from zoo with certain conditions in 2012.
This was not the first case where zoo animals were shifted to wild in Jharkhand, he said. “In 2013, Hazaribag sanctuary had brought deer and sambar from the Birsa zoo,” he said.
Singh further added sambars were not released in the wild but they were kept in captivity in the reserve. “An enclosure in an area of 15 hectare has been set up where the animals have been kept. Once they are acclimatised to the wild, we will wait for breeding. Then, their progeny will be reared and released into the tiger reserve,” Singh said.