New Delhi: A tiger cub, which was rescued in a critical condition in 2007 and hand-raised at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in Assam, is now being moved to near-wild environment at the Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal.
The cub, named Vivek, was barely six months old when found poisoned in a tea estate in Assam in December 2007 by a team of veterinarians from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
While the male cub was rescued, its female sibling was found dead nearby and the mother could not be located.
Under intensive care at the CWRC at Kaziranga, Vivek gradually recovered, but was confined to life in captivity.
As it has now grown into an adult now, it was decided to shift the cub to a bigger and wild-like environment, said Dr N V K Ashraf, Chief Veterinarian at WTI. He said: “Since Van Vihar National Park is a CZA (Central Zoo Authority)-recognised breeding centre for tigers, it was decided that Vivek could contribute to the gene pool there.”
He also stated that while attending to any animal, it is CWRC’s priority to rehabilitate it in the wild.
“However, rehabilitation protocol for hand-raised big cats like the tiger has not yet been formalised,” he added.
Spread over 445 hectares, Van Vihar National Park is a notified protected area and a CZA-recognised modern zoo hosting animals in near natural conditions. It boasts of the biggest large mammal enclosures among the zoos in the country.
(Note: Despite all of the claims by zoos and the private sector that they are breeding to save tigers from extinction, there are NO legitimate programs that send captive bred big cats back to the wild. This “near wild” experience for this tiger is said to be 445 hectares, but that usually means the cat is kept in a small cage on a large tract of land. Tigers can roam 400 square miles and 445 hectares is the equivalent of 1.7 square miles)
Vivek, who began his 2012-km journey from Kaziranga to Bhopal on May 16, has been put in a specially-designed crate loaded on to a truck. The tiger is expected to reach its destination by this evening.
According to WTI officials, two veterinarians and two animal keepers are also travelling with the tiger to ensure its safety during the journey.
The journey is being covered mostly at night, resting at pre-determined stops during the day, said Dr Rathin Barman, the WTI coordinator, who is overseeing the transfer.
“The truck has been insulated to facilitate moderation of temperature when required,” he added.
Surajit Dutta, Director of Kaziranga National Park and Project Leader of CWRC, said: “This is the first time that a tiger is being moved from CWRC outside Assam. “The team has made all necessary arrangements to ensure that the stress on the tiger is minimal, and it reaches Van Vihar safe and sound. I wish them luck.”