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Debates over relocating tigers in the country from a national park to the other: Genetic studies of tigers is a mandate for this

Wildlife experts and officials are investigating for the potential that Mukundra Tiger Hills in Kota, Rajasthan hold for relocating tigers there. Mukundra Tiger Hills was previously a tiger territory and habitat but was pronounced as a reserve in the year 2013. The reserve (read Mukundra Tiger Hills) is sans tigers at present. Experts have been stating their opinions about the significance of a genetic study to be conducted of tigers prior to their relocation from foreign regions.

Former Rajasthan Chief Wildlife Warden Mr. R N Mehrotra has bickered that bringing down tigers from other parts of the country to Mukundra Tiger Hills could prove to be dangerous if the same is done without a thorough genetic divergence study. On the other hand, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) of late did not give a positive nod to the relocation of tigers from Ranthambore to Sariska instead they favoured those from other gene pool.

Director of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dr. B V Mathur while turned down the proposal of the state forest department that was for shifting of a semi-adult tiger from Ranthambore to Sariska. He emphasized that in order to build up the population of tigers and to bring it to a sustainable level, it would be worth to transfer a male adult that is genetically dissimilar from the Sariska population instead of the sub adult as this age class is already represented in Sariska. Mr. Mathur explained that it is vital that the genetic configuration of a tiger must be given a priority for future translocation.

tiger

Former Rajasthan Chief Wildlife Warden Mr. R N Mehrotra enduringly combated  the stand of Wildlife Institute of India that Indian tigers have five clearly defined featured population groups in the Indian sub-continent. Their interbreeding has not been verified and documented till date. There has been no comparative homogeneity or divergence of these distinct population groups that has been inspected at the genetic level. In the nonexistence of any thorough genomic studies of each of these geographically separated five groups, it is not possible to develop a robust conservation strategy for the coming future of each of these separated populations.

Mr. R N Mehrotra further said that these five population groups are however protected in their reserves and are being day by day localized due to fissuring of their landscapes by roads and mining, etc., in light of these referred experiments it would be essential that unless genetic similarities between tigers of different regions are determined, no interbreeding must be permitted through exchange of animals from one area to the another.

Mr. R N Mehrotra supported that it would be in the right earnest that the ministry should allow the state department of forests of Rajasthan to translocate two adult male tigers from Ranthambore. Ranthambore has a sizeable population of male tigers in comparison to Sariska. Sariska at present has a distorted male-female ratio of 2:11. The Central government may also start a programme of genome mapping of the Indian tigers without further loss of the precious time.

sariska

Founder and Vice President of Sariska Tiger Foundation Mr. Sunayan Sharma, found potential and substance in what Wildlife Institute of India advocated for. He expressed there is some value in what Wildlife Institute of India is having a squabble for. All the tigers in Sariska were shifted there from Ranthambore, hence instead of shifting a tiger from Ranthambore, a tiger from, for instance, Panna Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh which is not genetically dissimilar but yet unlike from Sariska would add to the genetic pool which would help in the sustainability of the tiger population. However, he said inbreeding of an entirely different gene pool like the Sunderbans would be dangerous.

 


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