Nandankanan gets ‘wild’ gift from Bhopal

Nandankanan gets ‘wild’ gift from Bhopal

By Express News Service
19 Apr 2009 02:31:00 AM IST

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BHUBANESWAR: Maintaining heterozygosity is one of the most important factors of planned breeding in a zoo because healthy population and sound pedigree require fresh bloodline. The Nandankanan Zoological Park, known for successful breeding of the Royal Bengal Tiger (RBT), has long been crying out to infuse a new bloodline into its army of felines and now, it has happened.

In the last two decades, Nadankanan Zoo didn’t have a wild-caught tiger for breeding in the Zoo.

Today, the famous animal park received one from Bhopal Zoo as part of an exchange programme.

In fact, a tigress rescued from Satkosia, after being shot by poachers, was rehabilitated in Nandankanan Zoo. However, as it was afflicted with posterior paresis, the large cat could not be part of the breeding programme.

‘‘There was an urgent need to induce wild gene into tiger pedigree line of Nandankanan.

It was all the more imperative in view of the present ambitious conservation breeding programme launched by Central Zoo Authority,’’ said AK Patnaik, Director, Nandankanan Zoological Park and Zoo.

The park had two wild caught tigers which were brought in August 1998. Both, however, died in July 2000 during the great tiger tragedy when over a dozen cats perished in a week due to tripanosomasis.

The declining population of tiger in wild necessitated ex situ conservation breeding which is why CZA has been emphasising on infusion of new blood. The breeding programme the central authority laid out had Bhopal Zoo designated as coordinating zoo and Nandankanan, the participating zoo.

Says Patnaik, marking is mandatory for all animals involved in conservation breeding.

Tigers involved in the programme at Nandankanan are microchipped.

‘‘When their pedigree was determined, we found that there is a necessity of introduction of new bloodline to make the breeding programme viable and that was when we initiated dialogues with zoos,’’ he said. The challenge, however, was availability of wild caught tiger. Finally, Bhopal Zoo came up with one. The CZA okayed the proposal last month.

A tigress and two wild caught jackals were transported to Nandankanan today.

The animals were brought under direct supervision of a team of seven including a vet. Their travel was restricted to night because of the summer.

As part of the exchange programme, two white tigers would be handed over to Bhopal Zoo.

Nandankanan now has 24 tigers, both RBT and white. Twelve are normal, while the rest are white. With at least four young ones moving into the age group of one and above, the Zoo would have to provide them more space in terms of enclosure.

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