Reintroduction of Tigers in India: A case study from the Sariska Tiger ??2014-05-08Reintroduction of Tigers in India: A case study from the Sariska Tiger Reserve. BY ... territory

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    Reintroduction of Tigers in India: A case study

    from the Sariska Tiger Reserve. BY

    R S Shekhawat

    CF, Ajmer, Rajasthan

    Abstract:

    Re-introduction of tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska National Park

    is based on report entitled Assessment of Status of Tigers (Panthera tigris) in

    Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, Wildlife Institute of India, 2005 and subsequent

    Recovery Plan (Revised) developed by Field Director, Sariska Tiger Reserve.

    Reintroduction should establish self-sustaining populations with high

    reproductive fitness in the wild environment and ample genetic diversity (Frankham

    et al., 2002). It was suggested that three tigress and two tigers may be brought from

    Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve to re-establish the tiger population in Sariska (Sankar et

    al. 2005). It was also suggested that after establishing five tigers, two batches of two

    to three tigers should be brought every three years to Sariska. The restocking is

    essential to maintain genetic and demographic viability of tiger population. The

    genetic stock of the tigers of Ranthambhore and Sariska Tiger Reserves may be

    assumed to be similar as both habitats are part of semi- arid tracts in Aravalli hills,

    therefore to maintain the uniqueness of genetic stock of tigers in semi arid tract the

    best choice will be Ranthambhore tigers.

    Since the tiger population is dwindling drastically in its entire distribution

    range and Sariska which is the western most distribution of tigers (Wikramanayaka et

    al., 1999) has seen its complete extinction once, over time, it has grown even more

    necessary to monitor and study the relevant holistic, ecological and socio-economic

    aspects that will address important issues like population dynamics, demography,

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    territory size, dispersal, food habits and response to anthropogenic disturbance of the

    introduced tigers.

    Key Words

    Re-introduction, extinction, self-sustaining, genetic diversity, population dynamics

    ,monitoring, tranqualization, gene pool ,camera trapping , Transect lines , GPS

    ,Territory , anthropogenic , dispersal , disappearance , habitat ,PIP ,Supplimentation .

    Introduction

    Re-introductions has proved to be a valuable tool for the recovery of the

    species that have become either globally or locally extinct in the wild (Woodroffe,

    1999). Reintroductions can also give us an insight into the reasons of disappearance of

    a species from the areas where they formerly occurred, but it requires that it is

    genuinely experimental and properly monitored (Sutherland, 2004). Reintroduction is

    one such promising tool which has an important role to play in the current carnivore

    restoration efforts. But reintroduction programmes are expensive and time consuming

    affair and corresponding success rates are low which makes it difficult to justify

    spending precious conservation money in favour of reintroductions as against other in

    situ conservation measures (Pullin, 2002). Therefore it becomes highly imperative

    that reintroductions are based on sound scientific principles and methodology so that

    the success rates are high and the efforts are fruitful enough. The reintroduction and

    recovery of the Florida Panther (Puma concolor) in Florida, USA during early 1980s,

    reintroduction of African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) in Africa in 1990s are two such

    instances on large carnivores that enriched our knowledge about the science and

    management of carnivore reintroductions.

    Re-introduction of tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska

    National Park is based on report entitled Assessment of Status of Tigers (Panthera

    tigris) in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, Wildlife Institute of India, 2005 and

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    subsequent Recovery Plan (Revised) developed by Field Director, Sariska Tiger

    Reserve. Approval for the reintroduction of tigers in Sariska was taken in a meeting

    convened by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on 12-03-08 under the

    chairmanship of Sh. V.P. Singh, Member of Parliament. The grant of permission to

    translocate tigers from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve to Sariska tiger Reserve was

    accorded by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India vide its letter

    F.No. 1-4/2007WL-I(pt) dated 25-06-08. Accordingly, Wildlife Institute of India

    developed a detailed protocol and plan of operation on immobilization, radio-

    collaring and translocation of tigers from Ranthambhore to Sariska. A team from

    Wildlife Institute of India and Rajasthan Forest Department was deputed to conducted

    and facilitate above operation. A suggestion to translocate initial population of five

    tigers (two males and three females) from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve

    (Ranthambhore) was made, with a supplementation of three tigers (one male and two

    females) in every two years for a period of six years.

    The disappearance of tigers in Sariska during 2004 exemplifies the threat that

    exists to isolated tiger populations in many of parts of the country (Sankar et al.,

    2005). Based on the past trends and experiences, it is sensible to presume that such

    losses and local extinctions in future will be more frequent and we will have to

    undertake immediate reintroduction and restoration programs to save our natural

    heritage. It is perhaps not an isolated situation, and the recent national scale

    assessment reported that tigers have gone locally extinct from 97 districts in the last

    150 years (Qureshi et al., 2006). As per 2010 Tiger Estimation in country there has

    been 12% reduction in tiger occupancy area .

    Reintroduction should establish self-sustaining populations with high

    reproductive fitness in the wild environment and ample genetic diversity (Frankham

    et al., 2002). It was suggested that three tigress and two tigers may be brought from

    Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve to re-establish the tiger population in Sariska (Sankar et

    al. 2005). It was also suggested that after establishing five tigers, two batches of two

    to three tigers should be brought every three years to Sariska. The restocking is

    essential to maintain genetic and demographic viability of tiger population. The

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    genetic stock of the tigers of Ranthambhore and Sariska Tiger Reserves may be

    assumed to be similar as both habitats are part of semi- arid tracts in Aravalli hills,

    therefore to maintain the uniqueness of genetic stock of tigers in semi arid tract the

    best choice will be Ranthambhore tigers. Adult tigers over two and half years of age is

    considered good for capture and re-introduction due to ideal medical fitness, as the

    body at this age has higher resistance to diseases, physical strength to take on the

    stress of relocation, fertility, response/behavior when confronted with human/tourist

    are the important features that make a final choice.

    Since the tiger population is dwindling drastically in its entire distribution

    range and Sariska which is the western most distribution of tigers (Wikramanayaka et

    al., 1999) has seen its complete extinction once, over time, it has grown even more

    necessary to monitor and study the relevant holistic, ecological and socio-economic

    aspects that will address important issues like population dynamics, demography,

    territory size, dispersal, food habits and response to anthropogenic disturbance of the

    introduced tigers.

    Three tigers were reintroduced respectively during June-July 2008 (a male ST1

    and a female ST2) and February 2009 (female ST3) from Ranthambhore TR to

    Sariska TR. Another two tigers (a male ST4 and a female ST5) were reintroduced

    from Ranthambhore during July 2010. The first reintroduced tiger ST1 was found

    dead on 14th

    November 2010 at Rajore near a village Kalakhet in Sariska. Thereafter,

    another adult male tiger (ST6) which had strayed out from Ranthambhore and got

    settled in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur was translocated to Sariska in February

    2011.Two female tigress ST-9 & ST-10 were relocated in january 2013.

    Material and Methods

    The capture and translocation of tigers

    Five adult tigers (3 females & 2 males) were chemically immobilized and

    radio-collared in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve during the period from 23rd

    June to 4th

    July, 2008. Young adults of approximately two and half years to four years were

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    selected based on visual assessment and healthy body condition. Tigers were

    immobilized in early forenoon hours except one male which was immobilized in early

    afternoon because of the favourable conditions due to clouds and ambient temperature

    being around 320C. A mixture of Xylazine and Ketamine (500 mg + 400 mg, HBM)

    was used as 2.5 ml for females and 3.2-3.5 ml for males. The mixture provides

    synergistic effect and most appropriate where carnivores need to be sedated for longer

    time. In the present case, it was visualized that the immobilized animals may be

    required to be kept for 2-3 hrs under sedation considering the time from sedation and

    radio-collaring and to the transport at the helipad site. A water container and sprayer

    were kept available to manage possibility of animal body overheating due to sedation.

    A 250 kg container (length 5 11, breadth 3 6.5 and height 3 10) was fab