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News & Information

Hope springs for Panna tigers

Background
Panna Tiger Reserve (TR) in Central India that had lost all its tigers in 2009 is in the news again - this time for a good reason. A tigress that was translocated here last year from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve gave birth to four cubs in April. This is the first time in recent history of tiger conservation that a translocated tigress has given birth in the wild. Located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Panna TR had 21 tigers in 1998 according to Project Tiger, but these were practically wiped out due to poaching and other causes. Subsequently, protective and remedial actions were taken and the situation was made conducive for the translocation of tigers.

The translocation
In March 2009, the state government brought to Panna one tigress each from Bandhavgarh and Kanha Tiger Reserves. Both translocations were done with the support of experts from Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Later in 2009, a male tiger was translocated here from Pench Tiger Reserve. Subsequently, two female tigers were translocated for which WWF-India provided radio-collars, Support for remote surveillance systems was provided to monitor these tigers, when they were in the temporary enclosures. Further support for strengthening patrolling was provided including vehicles.

Initially it was difficult to contain the translocated tigers within their new home. The tigress from Kanha frequently strayed out until it found its place in the main habitat of the reserve and the male tiger from Pench wandered out of the reserve travelling over 300 km until it was captured and brought back to the reserve.

The future
Undoubtedly, this development heralds a new era of tiger conservation in India. This is particularly true for Panna TR as it now has a bright chance of being re-populated by tigers. The efforts of officials and the staff involved to track the male tiger when it strayed out of the park a few months ago and ensured it returned to the reserve shows that with due protection and dedication of the forest department officials the tigers can do well and return from the brink even from small populations.

This was a momentous occasion for tiger conservation in India and indeed the world. It was a very difficult time for the Panna reserve’s management and staff - to first contain the tigers, then to step up the monitoring and protection regimen. Though these births are a good sign, it is early to celebrate and only when the cubs reach adulthood can success be noted.
 
© Madhya Pradesh State Forest Department
Hope springs for tigers in Panna
© Madhya Pradesh State Forest Department

Translocation of tigers

Translocation is a conservation tool that can boost the overall population of a species by establishing viable populations spread out in more than one area. This helps increase genetic diversity and safeguards populations from being wiped out by poachers, diseases or natural disasters like fire and floods. With increasing tiger populations in some areas, translocation is likely to emerge as a management tool for reducing conflict, repopulating potential tiger habitat and diversifying populations. But concerns of genetic inbreeding have to be kept in mind for translocation. This means tigers and tigresses meant for a particular tiger reserve should be translocated from different reserves.
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