Tigress flown to Sariska to join lone tiger


Alwar (Rajasthan) : A Royal Bengal tigress was flown to Rajasthan’s Sariska tiger reserve from Ranthambore national park Friday, to be a mate to the tiger relocated there last week.

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The first tiger was shifted from Ranthambore on June 28.

“A tigress, about three to four years old, was brought to Sariska from Ranthambore national park by a helicopter. It reached at around 11.45 a.m. today (Friday),” a state government official said.

He said the tiger is about 160-170 kg and is being kept in a separate enclosure.

The big cats are being relocated as part of a plan by the government to repopulate the sprawling Sariska reserve with tigers.

Currently, Rajasthan has about 32 tigers. All except the two relocated are in Ranthambore.

Earlier, tigers in the Sariska reserve had been poached out of existence.

The tigress was identified by the officials in Ranthambore at around 6 a.m. and was sedated before being flown to Sariska, the official said.

Helicopters were used to save the tigers a 240-km road journey between the two sanctuaries.

The government decided to reintroduce tigers in Sariska after a report brought out by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in March 2005 had confirmed that there were no big cats left in the reserve, although a census conducted the previous year had indicated the existence of 16 to 18 tigers.

Ranthambore, which is one of India’s famous national parks, is a 494 sq km reserve in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district. It is home to around 32 Royal Bengal tigers, apart from 14 cubs that have also been sighted.

As per the plan, both the tigers would be acclimatised to their new home before they are ready for breeding. The tigers would be monitored through the radio-collars fitted on their necks.

The enclosure where the male tiger is kept is about two hectares while the enclosure for the female tiger is about one hectare.

The two will be fed live bait for some weeks and once they are acclimatised to the new habitat, would be let out into the wild, experts said.

The forest department is being extra cautious this time and has erected watch towers to keep an eye on the animals.

According to the plan, five tigers would be brought here in a span of three years for a breeding programme. About Rs.155 million has been earmarked for the project.

The Sariska tiger reserve is spread over some 866 sq km and is located 110 km from state capital Jaipur. The reserve is also home to leopards, different varieties of deer, jungle cats and birds, among others.