New tiger cubs at national park, new buses to reach them

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New tiger cubs at national park, new buses to reach them

Nitya Kaushik Posted: Dec 22, 2008 at 0408 hrs

Mumbai: The tiger safari at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) got a new attraction on Sunday. Two royal Bengal cubs born in captivity were released into safari cages, creating a lot of excitement. Over a thousand visitors reached the park to catch a glimpse of the cubs on the first day, SGNP officials said.

To step up its service in keeping with the attraction, two new safari buses were launched. With this there are five buses now, one to ferry tourists to Kanheri caves, and four on the safari route, SGNP superintendent of the lion and tiger safari, D Rathod, said. Dr P N Munde, conservator of the SGNP forest said, “The cubs are in good health. They will now be on display regularly, along with their mother Basanti.”

The cubs Yash and Laxmi, born on October 7, can be seen in the secondary cages.

In India, the endangered Bengal tigers have an estimated population of 1,300 to 1,500 in the wild. Therefore, successful rearing of these cubs, albeit in captivity, through its vulnerable infancy days, is an achievement for the park officials.

According to SGNP wildlife vet Dr Vinaya Jangale, “The cubs are very healthy and weigh six-and-a-half to seven kg each. We haven’t given them vaccine shots yet, but that will follow.”

Jangale has been treading with caution, considering that death rate was high among cubs, due to climate changes and infections.

Instructions were given to handlers to not touch the cubs, for fear of being rejected by their mother. “A tigresse’s olfactory senses are very sharp. They may reject cubs if they get a scent of humans from them,” she explained.

Soon, the first vaccine shots will be administered.

Meanwhile, the new buses came just in time to handle the overload of public, according to Rathod. “We had three coaches, but some were old and rickety and we needed new ones,” he said. Munde agreed, adding that the new coaches can carry 28 persons. “We want to phase out the old coaches slowly,” he said.

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