Tiger transfer

By Kirtiman Awasthi
Published: Friday 15 May 2009

Government sets up panel to set norms for relocation

THE National Tiger Conservation Authority has set up a panel to formulate guidelines for translocating tigers from one reserve to another.

The need for the guidelines was felt after tiger conservationists raised concerns when a tigress from Bandhavgarh tiger reserve was tranquillized and taken 200 km by road to Panna tiger reserve on March 3. Both the reserves are in Madhya Pradesh. The translocation was part of the state government's plan to shift two tigresses to Panna, which is reportedly left with no tiger. With the setting up of the panel, Madhya Pradesh will now have to wait till the guidelines are framed.

At present ntca follows iucn (International Union for Conservation of Nature) guidelines, which stresses identifying and eliminating previous causes of death. "Madhya Pradesh did not follow this while relocating the tiger to Panna. This could be because iucn guidelines are not binding," said Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India, Delhi. Wright suggests the new guidelines should be mandatory and stringent. "The last tiger in Panna was seen in December 2008. If the safety of a single male tiger cannot be assured, the future of the newly introduced tigers will be questionable," said Wright. She suggests the panel should ensure tigers' safety before relocating them.

K Ullas Karanth of Wildlife Conservation Society India, Bengaluru, suggests the panel should aim to maintain a population of at least a dozen breeding females. This would also require sufficient tiger-prey density, said Karanth. Conservationists suggest breeding tigers and those who have established territories should not be relocated. "Tigers start dispersing when they are two years old and look for new areas. This is the time when they can be relocated," said Karanth.

The panel comprises experts from ntca, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, state wildlife department and independent tiger experts.

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