Birth of cubs in Panna brings Sariska back in focus

The birth of four cubs in Panna National Park has brought the Sariska sanctuary in focus.

Last Updated: May 30, 2010, 16:48 PM IST

New Delhi: The birth of four cubs in Madhya
Pradesh`s Panna National Park under the government`s tiger
revival project has brought the Sariska sanctuary in Rajasthan
in focus where "sibling factor" is said to have hit the
breeding programme initiated two years ago.

Rajasthan wildlife officials have put the tiger
translocation programme on the backburner as they await
results of the DNA tests conducted to identify the genes of
two female tigresses and a male tiger brought there two years

"Various theories are doing the rounds. Since there was
some fear that the same gene pool of the animals might be the
reason for delayed breeding we are awaiting the results of
their DNA test being conducted before bringing in a new lot,"
a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.

Their fear hinges on the fact that though the tiger and
tigresses were shifted from Ranthambore to Sariska much before
than Panna sanctuary and they have been seen frequently
courting and mating, pregnancy was not happening.

DNA tests of two tigers -- a male and a female -- which
have been identified in Ranthambore to be shifted to Sariska
to take the total count to five are also awaited.

However, conservationist and National Board of Wild Life
(NBWL) member M K Ranjitsinh was of the view that tigers
should be shifted at the earliest to Sariska to repopulate the
endangered species.

He said "officials should not feel disappointed if
breeding has not happened. May be the tiger is sexually
inactive or the animals are not at ease during mating but
since these all are conjectures more animals should be
brought to ensure breeding."

More the number of tigers, more will be the chances of
breeding, he added.

Echoing similar views, an expert from Dehradun-based
Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said restocking of five big
cats as proposed under tiger rehabilitation plan should happen
at the earliest.

Though he agreed that to avoid gene problem, DNA test was
must before the animal is translocated, he also felt that it
was not an easy affair and a delay would further hamper the

"It is very difficult to catch the strayed animal. For
instance, the tigress that we have identified to be relocated
has moved to Kota range and hence approaching it is becoming
very difficult," he added.

According to him, "Sariska cannot be called a failure
case as success depends on bringing two more animals. In total
there should be two males and three females."

The expert dismissed theories that human disturbance was
the main cause for breeding failure.

Rajnithsinh too did not agree with wildlife activist
Belinda Wrights` contention that anthropogenic pressure was
hampering breeding among animals.

"Disturbance cannot be a major factor. Animals do take
some time to settle but despite disturbances they have been
breeding in other reserves too. Sariska once had good number
of predators despite a large number of villages in the core
area," he said.

Wright has stressed on removing human pressures such as
immediate relocation of villages from the park, regulation of
pilgrimages to Pandupole temple and closure of a highway
passing through the sanctuary.

The government initiated the tiger revival plan first in
Sariska and then Panna after both parks lost all their big
cats primarily to poaching.

The country has witnessed birth from translocated tigers
for the first time in Panna and it is hoped that the plan`s
success could open more avenues for conservation of tigers in
the country.