Jaipur: The Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan is all set to get a tiger and a tigress from the Ranthambore national park, to add to the three big cats it acquired earlier. Wildlife officials are hoping the move will help in their tiger breeding plans.
"A team of experts is in Ranthambore now trying to identify a tiger and a tigress to be shifted to Sariska," a senior official of the Rajasthan forest department said.
Of the three tigers relocated earlier in Sariska, the first was a male tiger. It was airlifted from Ranthambore in June 2008, followed by two tigresses from the same national park located in Sawai Madhopur district.
Sources in the forest department said the DNA test of the two big cats would be conducted before they are shifted to Sariska, located in Alwar district.
The tiger relocated earlier had failed to impregnate the two tigresses, an official said, adding, "We want everything to go right this time."
"The tiger has already mated with the tigresses but there is not the slightest indication of pregnancy in Sariska," said a wildlife official.
Experts fear that the male and two females relocated last year share the same father, which won`t exactly make for a diverse gene pool.
A DNA test before the relocation can help prevent this, experts said.
The Sariska tiger reserve, situated over 110 km from here, used to be one of India`s most famous tiger sanctuaries and was at the centre of the Project Tiger conservation programme.
Originally a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state, Sariska was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. In 1978 it was declared a tiger reserve. The present area of the park is 866 sq km.
The state government a few years ago faced criticism from political and other quarters on the disappearance of tigers from Sariska.
A Wildlife Institute of India report in 2005 confirmed that there were indeed no tigers left in Sariska.
Poaching was found to be the main reason for the dwindling tiger population.
The state government had submitted a detailed project to the central government for the rehabilitation of tigers in the reserve. Finally the project was sanctioned in November 2005.