Buxa Tiger Reserve may take up captive breeding



"We are preparing a plan on the suggestion of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on the possibility of captive breeding of tigers in Buxa which has been identified as a reserve with a low density population of big cats," Field Director of BTR R P Saini told reporters. The plan was currently under discussion and after finalisation would be submitted to NTCA, he said. "With the striped predators in Buxa ageing, young tigers if introduced for captive breeding, would have to be brought from a habitat similar to Buxa," Saini said.

He said the habitats like the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh besides Manas and Kaziranga National Parks in Assam were similar to Buxa. The relocation of the big cats from those reserves would require the permission of the respective state governments as well as clearance by the Centre. To a question, he said that Buxa was not the first tiger reserve where captive breeding of tigers was suggested. "Tigers were relocated in Sariska earlier for a similar purpose," he said. After captive breeding tigers would be released in the wild, he said.

Ideally the 760 sq km Buxa reserve should have 28 tigers, but the DNA profiling and scats indicated that there were only 13 big cats there, Saina said. The 2007 census had, however, mentioned the presence of 20 tigers, he said. This time the tiger census in the reserve would be conducted through DNA profiling of scats in January next year. He said that DNA method was foolproof as the DNA profile of two tigers could not be identical.

The census in Buxa would be conducted with the help of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology CCMB)in Hyderabad, he said. A scientist from the CCMB would train forest personnel to collect and preserve scat samples before sending them to Hyderabad for tests. Earlier, the authorities had depended on the pug mark method to count tigers, but many had questioned its authenticity. The DNA analysis would provide the exact number of tigers in BTR, he said.

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