Sunday, May 29, 2011

Assam tiger expected to boost gene pool at Bhopal zoo

New Delhi, May 29 (PTI) A four-year-old orphan tiger, shifted recently from a rehabilitation centre in Assam to Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal, seems to have brought cheers to the officials as they hope it will add to the gene pool of the wild cats in the breeding centre.

The tiger, named Vivek, reached Van Vihar on Friday evening after a five-day journey covering 2012km on road from the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga in Assam.

"With the arrival of Vivek, the count of Royal Bengal tigers at Van Vihar has reached 10 and breeding among the big cats is likely to get a boost," said A K Khare, Assistant Director of the Central Zoo Authority-recognised modern zoo.

"Being a wild tiger, Vivek is expected to benefit the gene pool of tigers at Van Vihar," Khare told PTI.

The tiger was rescued from Methoni tea estate near Kaziranga National Park in 2007 when it was barely six months old.

The cub was found poisoned and in a critical condition when rescued by a team of forest officials and International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) veterinarians. The carcass of another cub was found nearby and their mother was not located.

Since then, Vivek was hand-raised at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga, jointly run by IFAW-WTI and the state forest department.

According to WTI chief veterinarian Dr N V K Ashraf, they decided to shift the tiger to another place as CWRC was just a rehabilitation centre and could not afford to keep adult animals for a longer period.

"CWRC''s priority is to release rescued animals in the wild, but since protocol for rehabilitation of hand-raised tigers has not been formalised, Vivek had to be shifted to a zoo," said Dr Ashraf.

"We decided to shift the animal to Van Vihar as it is one of the biggest zoological park and CZA-recognised breeding centre having near natural environment," he added.

Van Vihar National Park is a notified protected area and a modern zoo hosting animals in near natural conditions.

Spread over an area of 445 hectares, the national park boasts of the largest mammal enclosures.

Speaking about the tiger''s behaviour at Van Vihar, Khare said, "Vivek has not shown any sign of stress or discomfort since its arrival at Van Vihar. He has been very friendly and seems to be happy with the new location."

"We have provided him a 1,000-sq metre-enclosure with two chambers fitted with coolers to help him beat the summer heat. There is also a water hole inside the enclosure," he said, adding that the animal was being fed with 8kg of buffalo meat every day.

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