Bhopal: In a good news for animal lovers, scientists have traced DNA samples of four cubs to a big cat originally living in Panna reserve before sudden disappearance of tigers from there in 2009.
The matter came to light after a DNA test was conducted by Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) on the suggestion of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to assess genetic diversity and paternity assessment of reintroduced tiger population in Panna.
Accordingly, DNA samples of trans-located tiger cubs were collected and matched with a male tiger (T3), which was introduced after 2009.
"It was (found) that four cubs were not sired by the introduced male T3. However, genetic evidence indicated that they were sired by one of the original and probably still existing Panna tigers," according to a letter by CCMB written to WII, copy of which was accessed through RTI by wild life activist Ajay Dubey.
According to a report by the Madhya Pradesh government, there was no tiger in Panna Reserve in the 2009 census carried out by the authorities there. The report said there were about 20 tigers in 2006. There are about 22 big cats in Panna Tiger Reserve.
"Higher authorities should seriously examine this finding and proceed further with thorough research. It will help in conservation of tigers. The government must also order CBI enquiry to probe disappearance of tigers from Panna," Dubey said.
The Madhya Pradesh government had formed a committee to look into incidents of tiger deaths and disappearance in Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR). The findings of the committee revealed that poaching was one of the major reasons behind the decimation of tigers in Panna.
Six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh -- Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay Dubri and Pench -- contain about 257 big cats. The tiger population in the country was estimated to be 1,706 as per data collected in 2010.
As many as 58 tigers have died in the past five years due to poaching, territorial fights and old age in the six big cat habitats in Madhya Pradesh.