NTCA asks MP to keep tiger in enclosure for acclimatisation
PTI 13 December 2009, 06:25pm IST
NEW DELHI: Fearing that the strong “homing instinct” of a male striped cat, which has strayed out of the Panna Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh, will lead it to trouble, the Centre has asked the state to capture and keep it in an enclosure till it acclimatises to its new home.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in an advisory issued to the state government sought immediate tranquilising of the two-and-half-year-old tiger to be kept inside the enclosure till it is able to make its own kills before being released in forests of the reserve.
Worried about its fate, the NTCA officials have pointed out that the tiger, by straying as far as 150 km from his habitat to Damoh forest division is exhibiting strong homing instinct and could risk its life by walking into poachers or by becoming a victim of the human-animal conflict.
“For the past 15 days, the tiger is out of the national park. But the fact that it has moved as far as 150 km from the reserve is certainly a cause of worry.
“It seems the striped cat is trying to move to its original home (Pench tiger reserve) from where it was brought,” a senior NTCA official added.
“Homing instinct” is the ability of an animal to perceive direction that is beyond the usual human senses and help the lost animal either to return to their home base or trail their owners.
According to a theory, this ability can be attributed to the animal’s sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field.
The NTCA has also suggested the state officials to spread the scats of the two females who were relocated early this year around the cage to keep the tiger aware of their presence.
Keeping the animal in an enclosure for some period is a mandatory strategy under the relocation programme with an aim to acclimatise it with the new surroundings and curb its homing instinct.
The two females which were relocated from Pench and Bandahvgarh parks in March have taken well to the surroundings and the wildlife specialists had expected the male tiger to meet them which may result in revival of the big cats’ population in the reserve spread over 542 sq kms.
The straying incident, however, has also raised questions on the seriousness of the state government’s ability to protect the endangered animals in the Panna reserve where all big cats were poached by the end of last year.
In fact, the animal relocation programme by the state government was mired in controversy with wildlife experts alleging that it was done in haste without taking appropriate protection steps at the ground level.
“The tiger was brought to mate with the two felines relocated to revive the big cat population in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve but it moved out of the reserve.
“Had the relocation programme been properly executed, the lone tiger would have by now established its territory. But this has not happened,” wildlife expert Belinda Wright said.