Madhya Pradesh’s tiger breeding plans hit a snag

By Sanjay Sharma, IANS
Friday, December 25, 2009

BHOPAL - The Madhya Pradesh forest department’s plans to encourage tiger breeding in the Panna National Park have hit a snag as the tiger shifted there from Pench Reserve last month, has moved out and is apparently trying to return to his original “home”.

The tiger was brought to Panna from the Pench Tiger reserve Nov 14 as a part of a project to reintroduce tigers in the national park. Two tigresses were sent to Panna in March 2009.

“The tiger was brought to mate with two tigresses translocated to revive the big cat population in Panna but he moved out of the reserve. He has been on the move since Nov 25,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) R.S. Negi.

Claiming that the tiger moving out of the reserve was not a serious matter as it was yet to form its territory and the place was new for the animal, Negi said “many a time ‘homing instinct’ also drives the big cat back to its original habitat”.

The “homing instinct” is the ability of an animal to perceive direction - beyond the usual human senses - and help the lost animal either to return to its home or owners. According to experts, this ability can be attributed to the animal’s sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field.

Experts of Panna and Kanha are still with the rescue team for the purpose of tranquilising the tiger which is proving to be a difficult task.

“The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has already asked the State Forest department to tranquilise the feline and keep it in confinement for sometime so that it acclimatises with the new surroundings. It is not proving to be an easy task,” an official said, on condition of anonymity.

“This may also delay plans to reintroduce tigers in Panna,” he said.

Forest officials from Panna, Kanha and Sagar who have been keeping a round-the-clock vigil to trace the big cat for almost a month, however, spotted a tiger at the Taradehi forest in Damoh district Thursday and informed the rescue team which also spotted the pugmarks but they turned out to be of a different tiger.

“Leaving wildlife scientists baffled, the tiger - tracked 24×7 through a radio collar - has crossed hills, fields, human habitations and rivers, and is now moving towards his home at Pench,” said Panna National Park director R. Sriniwas Murthy.

“The phenomenon was difficult to fathom. One can’t say whether the tiger knows that its heading towards his original home. In any case, the tiger has to be tranquilised and taken back to Panna but the dense foliage and tough terrain have prevented veterinarians from doing this so far”, Negi said.

Filed under: Science

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