New Delhi: Worried over safety of four new-born tiger cubs, the Madhya Pradesh government has put on hold its plan to relocate a new male big cat to Panna sanctuary.
"If we shift a male tiger as planned earlier, it might devour the hapless cubs which are less than two months old," HS Pabla, Principal Chief Conservator (Wildlife), Madhya Pradesh, told a news agency.
"Panna currently has one male and two female big cats, including the lactating one. The cubs will face survival threat if a new alien tiger is introduced...The unrelated male may even kill them if they are not their off-springs...This is a natural tendency among the predators," tiger expert K Shankar said.
The state government on its part has beefed up security with the entire area being closed for tourists to ensure safe habitat to the cubs.
Overly cautious and secretive, tigresses are often reluctant to let a stranger male go near their litter and immediately move them far from the area which they feel becomes disturbed or threatened, Shankar said.
A tigress spend nearly 70 percent of their time nursing its cub for the initial few days after birth. This reduces to 30 percent by the time the cub reaches one-month-old. Approximately half of the litters do not survive to attain the age of two, the scientist from Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India said.
For instance, Shankar said, last November an 11-month-old female cub was killed inside the Kanha National Park by an adult tiger. In another incident, a two-year-old tigress was attacked and killed by a tiger while trying to protect her cubs.
Young tigers become independent from their mothers around 17 to 24 months of age, when they first settle temporarily in marginal habitats and then take a permanent territory of their own.
Spread over 542 sq km, Panna tiger reserve, which lost all its native predators to poachers a few years back, is again witnessing a rise in their numbers after a translocated tigress gave birth to four cubs last May, indicating success of the programme.
However, while decision to shift one more male tiger has been kept in the back-burner, the state government has plans to relocate two female big cats by the end of the monsoon season as per schedule.