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Trained to hunt, 4-year-old tigers to get new home in Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary (Nov)

 
The Times of India, New Delhi 8th November, 2013
 
Correspondent : Vijay Pinjarkar,
 
NAGPUR: Two 4-year-old tigresses rescued from the wild and trained to hunt in captivity in Pench Tiger Reserve will be released in Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary soon. This will be the first experiment in Maharashtra and only second after Madhya Pradesh in India where similar tigers were released after being trained in captivity.
It's not often that tigers as old as four years released into the wild. Two years ago a six-year-old orphaned tigress was released in Panna and it was followed by the release of two 2-and-half-year-olds in Kanha last month. At present, both the tigresses in Pench are doing well and are hunting live sambars, chitals and even calves released as live feed in the enclosure.
 
On October 30, chief wildlife warden Sarjan Bhagat was asked by principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi to complete the formalities with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India ( WII).
 
The two tigresses, Sukhwasi and Ganeshpipri, and a male Bhangaram (Talodi) were rescued separately from Gondpipri in the Dhaba forest range in Chandrapur in September 2009 after mother went missing. The cubs were then six months and are now four years old. They have already crossed the age of release.
 
"Nagzira was most spacious and safest to manage so NTCA gave permission. Besides, some Tadoba buffer tigresses just moving out from mother's company are also being proposed for relocation in Nagzira," said Pardeshi.
 
Wildlife experts wanted to know why the two females are not being released in Navegaon and Chaprala from where tigers have vanished. To this Pardeshi said, "Navegaon and Chaprala will be considered carefully after protection and issues of man-animal conflict are better resolved. We are trying for that now, but it will take more time."
 
The forest department's rationale behind release of the females in Nagzira is that male tigers outnumber females there. However, as per last year's official census figures, there were 5 tigers - two males and three females. Of this, a young male Jai migrated to Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary in search of female. One male is claimed to be present in New Nagzira and Koka, while another male Dendu and two females Mai and Alpha are only remaining in Nagzira.
 
Mai is almost 13 years while Alpha is 10 years. Both the females are close to an age when they will not be able to bear any more cubs, hence there will be an imbalance.
 
"We are evaluating the facts by experts and are identifying spots to release the two females in Nagzira and New Nagzira. A draft plan is being prepared accordingly. First round of talks have already been done," said APCCF (wildlife administration & ecotourism) VK Sinha. However, the release of excess tigresses from Tadoba in Nagzira is not confirmed yet.
 
"One of the reasons to release the tigresses is also based on the idea that in near future Navegaon-Nagzira will be declared a tiger reserve and the state will need tiger numbers in the new reserve," said officials.
 
Wildlife expert Chittaranjan Dave said that release of such cubs depend on conditions how you raise them in captivity. Any release depends on habitat, prey, low density of tigers in that area and man-animal conflict ratio.
 
The move to released the tigresses comes close on the heels of sambars being reintroduced in Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary by the state to increase the prey base for its tiger population.