Exit white tigress, enter chinkaras at Delhi Zoo

Delhi Zoo would soon bid farewell to one of a rare inmates,a white tigress which is moving to Gwalior Zoo in exchange for two pairs of chinkaras being brought in to help avoid excess inbreeding among the resident antelopes.

Updated: May 06, 2010, 13:22 PM IST

New Delhi: Delhi Zoo would soon bid
farewell to one of its rare inmates, a white tigress which is
moving to Gwalior Zoo in exchange for two pairs of chinkaras
being brought in to help avoid excess inbreeding among the
resident antelopes.

Currently, the capital`s zoo has three pairs of
endangered chinkara (Gazella bennettii) but the animals are at
risk from inbreeding, which makes it mandatory to borrow
animals from other zoos to maintain the genetic diversity of
offspring, says Delhi Zoo officials.

"The two pairs of Chinkara are being brought from
Gwalior to reduce inbreeding and slow down the loss of vigour
as the existing animals have inbreeded for two to three
generations. But the continued inbreeding results in terminal
lack of vigour and probable extinction as the gene pool
contracts, fertility decreases, abnormalities increase and
mortality rates rise," says Anand Krishna, currently in-charge
of Delhi Zoo.

Line-breeding is still a form of inbreeding i.e.
breeding within a family line and includes between two
cousins, aunt and nephew, niece and uncle as well as between
grandparent and grandchild.

However, on the other hand, too much outcrossing is
also not advisable as it can cause loss of type and therefore
loss of a distinct breed.

The official says currently the zoo is the home for
two male and female white tigers. The Bengal tiger (Panthera
tigris tigris) is a subspecies of the tiger and is found in
India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, and southern Tibet.

Tigers are among the world`s most threatened species,
with only an estimated 3,200 remaining in the wild, according
to the World Wildlife Fund.

Being hunted for game the chinkara population is also
on the decline.

Although Chinkara are under Schedule I of the Wildlife
Protection Act, they still fall prey to occasional incidents
of poaching. In a famous case film star Salman Khan was
sentenced to five years in prison for shooting chinkara and
blackbuck in Rajasthan.

"Besides, we have recently added a pair each of
endangered fox and jackal and a highly poisonous Russel Viper
for exhibit through exchange programme. Fox and jackals have
been acquired from Bilaspur Zoo while Russel`s Viper, a
venomous snake is from Bagalore Zoo," says Krishna.

PTI