New Delhi: After a gap of over four
decades, famed white tigers are once again set to roar in
Madhya Pradesh`s Rewa forests.
At a recent meeting of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA),
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has given a go-ahead to the
state government`s proposal to start a zoo, rescue centre and
captive breeding of highly-endangered white tigers at Maand
reserve near Govindgarh Fort.
White tigers are historically associated with the Central
state. Way back in 1951, the Maharaja of Rewa had found the
first white tiger cub, later named Mohan, and kept it in
Govidngarh fort till his death in 1970.
Mohan`s offsprings were born there and now its lineage
can be traced in various zoos in the country but incidentally
Madhya Pradesh has no white tiger.
"White tigers were first found in Rewa forest and because
of that reason, locals are emotionally attached with these
feline beauties," Chief Wildlife Warden H S Pabla said.
"Moreover, since they are star attraction for any zoo, we
are planning to have a zoo, rescue centre and white tiger
breeding centre in an area spread over 100 hectares," he said.
"After the green signal from the Centre, we will now
approach the Supreme Court for permission for establishing the
zoo and breeding centre," he added.
Ramesh has suggested that the project could be in
collaboration with the National Tiger Conservation Authority
(NTCA) which is presently overseeing conservation and
management of tigers in the wild.
NTCA member secretary Rajesh Gopal said that contrary to
popular belief, white tigers are not albinos. "They are the
expression of the recessive mutant gene. The breeding
programme would ensure that they are back in their natural
habitats," he said.
"If two white tigers breed, 100 per cent of their cubs
will be homozygous white tigers. After captive-breeding, they
can be released in the wild as has been done successfully with
normal yellow-black striped tigers in Sariska and Panna
reserves," Gopal added.
Delhi Zoo and Nandankanan Zoological Park in Orissa have
been successful in captive breeding of these rare species.
White tiger breeding programme will be the part of the
CZA scheme under which it has identified 58 different
critically endangered wild animal species for increasing their
number, such as Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, Snow leopard,
Clouded leopard, Asiatic cheetah and Golden cat.
"Taking corrective measures to address the cause of
earlier decline or extinction of the wild population of the
targeted species is one of the important components of the
programme," CZA director B S Bonal said.