Hand-reared tigress gives birth in wilderness

A five-year-old semi-wild tigress has become the world’s first feline reared in captivity and shifted to wilds to spawn two cubs at the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Madhya Pradesh.

“This is for the first time that a semi-wild tigress shifted to the wilds has adjusted to new environs and begotten cubs. The tigress was born in May 2006 in the Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) and within days her mother had died,” PTR Field Director, R S Murthy said.

The tigress, T-4, was then reared in an enclosure and fed by Kanha staffers. The semi-wild tigress was carted out to Panna and released into the wilds only on March 27 last year.

There were apprehensions about the tigress’ survival in the wild, given that it was hand-reared in an enclosure. But she picked up the ropes quickly and started going for kills in the deep jungle, where it met a lone translocated tiger, and mated.

She delivered two cubs, and one of them was spotted by a PTR official on December 15 last year. T-4 and her two cubs have now started moving out of their den since last week.

Before this, two translocated tigresses had given birth to eight cubs at PTR, of which six had survived. But both were wild tigresses, and not hand-reared and shifted, like T-4.

With eight cubs now, besides four tigresses and a tiger, the big cat population in PTR has risen to 13. In early 2009, PTR had lost all its tigers and the big cats were subsequently reintroduced to revive population.

Significantly, the tiger re-introduction programme had failed in Sariska Tiger Reserve in neighbouring Rajasthan after poachers reportedly wiped out the felines there.

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