UN REAPPRENTISSAGE A LA VIE SAUVAGE BIEN ENGAGEE POUR DEUX ORPHELINES. MAIS LEUR FRERE SYMPATHISE AVEC SA PROIE ... (Times of India, ce jour).
NAGPUR: When forest staff at Bor wildlife sanctuary released a live goat in the enclosure of a full grown male tiger, they hoped the beast would make a quick kill. To their astonishment and dismay, the tiger being raised in captivity decided to make friends
with its intended meal.
For two days, the tiger did not kill the goat despite being hungry. Instead it indulged in playful behaviour with it, at one point dumping it in artifical waterhole. The male-named Bhangaram (Talodi)- is one of the three siblings rescued from Gondpipri in Dhaba forest range in Chandrapur in September 2009. The other two are females named Sukhwasi and Ganeshpipri. Their mother had gone missing. The six-month-old cubs were shifted to Bor and kept in a small enclosure-only a few thousand square feet- after two months in November. Forest officials had hoped to train them to survive in the wild so they could be released back in the forest.
The three tigers were being fed beef. In 2011 some live deer were released for them. The tigers have now turned four and their hunting skills were once again being tested by giving them live feed in the form of goat shifting them to a bigger 3.5 hectare enclosure in Pench Tiger Reserve.
Accordingly, since February 13, the two tigresses were given three live goats. The tigresses are aggressive and hunted the goats in the enclosure and consumed it, indicating they could hunt. But male turned out to be unusually docile. On Saturday, the goat was released in its enclosure and it remained unharmed till Monday. Sources said the tiger did not even try to kill it and, instead, played with it.
Forest officials, who did not want to be quoted, confirmed the incident. "We finally shifted the goat to female enclosure on Monday morning. The tigresses quickly made the kill and consumed it," they said. The male tiger that had remained hungry for two days was later given beef to eat.
The Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has recommended release of the three rescued tigers. Now doubts have been raised whether the male can be released back as it appears to have lost its hunting skills. In June 2012, however, it had hunted a live deer released in its enclosure. Since then, no live feed was given to the tigers.
Veteran conservationist and honorary wildlife warden for Gadchiroli M S Chouhan says when the females were rescued they had killed a dog and it seems they still had some hunting skills. "I fear the male is not fit for release," he stressed. Wildlife biologist from Pune Vidya Athreya said the cubs require a lot of help from their mother to learn how to hunt well.
Earlier, noted tiger experts Valmik Thapar and K Ullas Karanth had cautioned that releasing orphaned tigers back in the wild was full of problems as captive animals were not adept at finding their own food source-they can therefore turn into cattle lifters or man eaters. Karanth said there were very few situations in India warranting release of tigers from captivity. Wherever prey occurs, wild tigers are already found in appropriate densities, so the need for introducing tigers does not exist.
* The three tigers were brought to Bor in November 2009, but repeated requests chief wildlife wardens to expedite their release fell on deaf ears of NTCA
* Two crucial years were wasted. It was only on October 4, 2011, that a two-member WII team visited Bor, that too after principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi followed up
* The three tigers have been kept in an enclosure which is just 652 sq metres, within this a small space has been earmarked for the male
* In 2011, the tigers were given deer as live feed. The tigers killed the deer but as live feed was stopped, the situation was back to square one
* Experiments need a super infrastructure. The forest department lacks trained people. After much persuasion, a larger enclosure in Pench was built
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