The two cubs of T-5, the tigress found dead in Ranthambhore National Park on Wednesday, may now make their way to Sariska Tiger Reserve as part of the re-location programme for the big cats there. The cubs, missing for hours after their mother's carcass was found in Kachida locality of the park, were traced some 300 metres away near a hillock after a vigorous search by Forest Department staff.
The cubs, aged about 3-4 months, were found in good condition though their mother had not suckled them for some days.
The little ones were fed on meat during the day though the attempts of the Forest staff to catch them failed as they managed to slip out in the wild once again.
Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar district of Rajasthan, which lost one male tiger, CP-1, recently due to alleged poisoning by villagers, is otherwise getting ready to receive a full grown male, the truant, T-7, which had entered the bird haven in Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur two months back. If the cubs are transported to Sariska, it will prove a generational shift in the park's tiger population where none of the re-introduced tigresses has littered yet.
The Forest Department is yet to officially announce the move but senior official here said this was the best possible option as the cubs have to be reared in captivity.
“The other option could have been sending them to zoo which is ruled out. Sariska has an advantage as it has two big enclosures measuring 100x100 metres where the tigers brought for re-introduction are kept for a few days for acclimatization prior to their release,” noted Rajpal Singh, member of the Rajasthan Board for Wildlife.
The Rajasthan forest authorities maintain that they can take a decision in this regard –without waiting for clearance from higher-ups in Delhi-- as immediate steps are needed to ensure the cubs' survival.
“For all practical purposes they are orphans. The best way to look after them is to take them to Sariska and release them in one enclosure till they grow up,” Mr. Singh noted.
This would not prove an impediment in the introduction of T-7 in February itself as per the announcement of Union Environment & Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, as the other enclosure would be free for the new entrant.
Reports reaching here from RNP said two wooden cages to trap the cubs using freed as bait were ready. The plan is to transport the cubs by road to Sariska once they enter the cages.