Six tigers being nurtured at enclosures in two reserves in the state have hope of roaming free in the wild, thanks to a successful tiger translocation experiment at Panna National Park, about 400 km from in Bhopal. The tigers, including five cubs at Bandhavgarh National Park and one adult tigress at Kanha National Park are kept in extended enclosures and can be released in the wild at locations to be decided later, authorities feel.
What has paved the way for their freedom is the near successful translocation of a tigress at Panna that had been bred in similar conditions at Kanha. Failure of the experiment would perhaps have meant a life of captivity for the cubs.
T 4 or the fourth tigress to be shifted to Panna recently as part of the reintroduction plan was bred in semi wild conditions at an extended enclosure in Kanha after she along with 2 other cubs was found abandoned. T4 has adjusted to her new home and is making regular kills.
The biggest apprehension for wildlife managers was whether T4 would be able to hunt for herself given the fact that she was fed goats and the occasional deer driven into the enclosure. In the last month at Panna, T4 has managed to make 4 kills of wild animals.
In Bandhavgarh 3 cubs, 2 female and a male are housed at an enclosure in Magadhi and have also been bred in semi wild conditions. The cubs have been kept there since August 2009 after their mother was poisoned. Two other cubs, a male and female are kept at another enclosure at Jhurjura after their mother was killed in a collision with a vehicle.
"The cubs are being brought up with minimal human imprinting so that they can adjust to life in the wild easily. They are fed goats that are occasionally released in the enclosure and also make kills of wild animal inside the enclosure," said field director, Bandhavgarh National Park, CK Patil.
"The tigress from Kanha adjusting to life in the wild is good news for these cubs. It would be easier to now take a decision to release them in the wild as there is a successful precedent," he added.
A tigress at Kanha, T4's sibling, would also be sent to Panna as part of the reintroduction plan. The cubs at Bandhavgarh will have to wait to be at least 3 years before they can be released in the wild, possibly at Madhav National Park, Shivpuri, sources said.