To counter such problems there are some naturalists who favour the idea of translocating tigers from zoos to forests to improve the genetic pool. Others feel that this action would be ill-advised as animals so released would either die as a result of having lost their hunting abilities, or may turn into man-eaters or cattle-lifters as they stray to villages in search of easy prey.
Whatever be the merits or demerits of any particular suggestion, no one can ignore the portents for the future and dissent is bound to take place as involved people search for solutions.
Billy Arjan Singh has many admirers and many detractors. He is, however, accepted by all as a naturalist who has the animal's welfare at heart. He was mainly responsible for the creation of the Dudhwa National Park where eventually he released a tigress, obtained from foreign shores as a cub, in the hope that she may establish herself, find a suitable mate and procreate. Therein lies a tale; for the authorities insist that Tara, as the tigress was named, is dead; the victim of an ill-advised experiment. Arjan Singh, however, in his latest book titled, `Tara -- a Tigress' maintains that she is alive and well and that his experiment was an unqualified success. Somewhere in between these two poles lies the truth, battered by miscommunication and human frailty. We give below some excerpts from the book with some of the opinions expressed by H.S. Panwar, the dynamic Director of Project Tiger. Hopefully, some benefit may be derived from their divergent views, for time is fast slipping by and it is imperative that sanity prevails and wildlife and nature are given a chance to survive.
“When people who should know better say that it is impossible to reintroduce hand-reared wild animals into their natural environment, they speak through ignorance. The instincts of such animals pull them towards a return to natural conditions of life, and all that is required in the case of major predators is that they should be isolated from humans soon enough for them to retain their inborn natural abhorrence of the human presence. Once necessity and the environment take over, the dependent animal will soon evolve into the complete predator."
"The successful conclusion of any wildlife project is a source of great satisfaction, and when it demonstrates that a declining population can be restored to its original state, then the possibilities seem endless. Reactions are often debased by social stresses, but deep down in most humans is a concern for the underdog. Venerated in folklore and legend, the predator is everywhere under threat of extinction. Sport killing and the fur trade have taken their toll. Competition and the desire to eliminate a rival, and thereby acquire a status symbol, have served to drive the great predators to the point of no return, and when the legend is complete we will have to live with our regrets. For it has truly been said that we have not inherited the earth from our parents, but have borrowed it from our children.
Of the eight sub-species of tiger, four are either extinct or nearing extinction. Yet scientific quibbles still deny the integration of one sub-species with another, although they have both descended from a common ancestor in Siberia and adapted to their environment during the process of colonization. Minimal populations in restricted areas are all eventually doomed to genetic failure and extinction, and the only remedy is the translocation of animals by an international body in the belief that they will evolve a local morphology in the course of time. If the white rhino could be moved from South Africa, why can't we do the same with the tiger? Hitler's theory of herrenvolk was condemned, but are we being anthropomorphic when we apply the concept of ‘One World’ to save the tiger?
Wildlife is a truly international subject: the developed nations, who have largely destroyed their own wild animals, seek to preserve those of the developing countries. However, the government of the people by the people and for the people is strictly on a national basis, and in this lies the greatest danger to the preservation of wildlife. The fact that Tara came from Twycross Zoo in England and was integrated into an Indian National Park demonstrates that international cooperation is possible. Is it too much to hope that this might set an example for the future?”
“Before we could leave, however, an ominous rumble came in the shape of a telephone call from India. Some bright person had pointed out that no zoos had pure-bred Indian tigers and that a mixed strain should not be imported into the country. I was taken aback and obtained confirmation from Twycross that Tara was indeed a tigress of Indian parentage. It struck me as a most ludicrous scientific quibble when every effort was being made to save the tiger from extinction. While we were prepared to talk of racial integration among humans and condemn Hitler's theory of herrenvolk, it seemed that we applied different standards to animals which had the same natural functions as our own, but from whom we were too proud to take lessons. Also, India had been unable to produce a tiger cub for the occasion!”
“I had to leave Tiger Haven to attend a meeting in Delhi, but Babu Lal relates that in the early night a bear grunted and fled near the Double Storey Machan and Tara visited the Jungle Fowl Jetty Reach. Her pugmarks showed that she came as far as her cage, though she did not enter it, and that she had then swum across the Soheli after jumping into the tethered boat. The next three days she spent with the male tiger in the neighbourhood: several places where the grass had been flattened by rolling revealed the presence of the two tigers. Then they disappeared – Tara had finally chosen to return to the wild.”
“Nowhere do I claim to have taught Tara anything, for the simple reason that a human cannot teach an animal: his lifestyle is too different. The tiger belongs to the hours of darkness when his acute senses are employed in a search for prey and for procreation; the daylight hours are devoted to the seclusion which he normally seeks. The human, on the other hand, lives in an artificial environment of his own making and it is sheer arrogance for him to claim that a hand-reared wild animal will be so smitten by regular mealtimes that it will not wish to leave.”
“When Tara left she too was responding to her instincts: as a female she was more dependent than a male because of her biological functions, and what she did was to exchange one form of dependence for another, choosing as a replacement the young male tiger who had been in constant attendance in her later days at Tiger Haven. All I did was to give her the option and the opportunity.”
“Tara had now been living in the wild for almost three months and at this point an interesting change took place in the social relations between the local tigers. In the middle of April, Tara's pugmarks were seen for the first time with Long Toes near the Ghulli Pool. Evidently she had switched partners. Not long after, this was confirmed when my brother Balram made the first definite sighting of Tara as he was driving towards Tiger Haven.”
“I had to wait until early the following year before I finally succeeded in getting the photograph I needed. By then I realized that it had to be taken by night, and as my own equipment was not sophisticated enough for night pictures I sought the help of a young naturalist who possessed a motor-operated camera and a remote-control device. Tara was now regularly attending feeding sessions with Old Crooked Foot and the other tigers at the spillway site at Tiger Reach, and only fifty metres away there was a machan. We camouflaged the cameras and tried to muffle the sound of the motor, which was within a few metres of the kill, in the hope that the tigers would confuse the flash with some unseasonal summer lightning. This worked remarkably well, and in the photographs which emerged the left-cheek stripe matched the one in a picture taken of Tara when she was about fourteen months old. So too did right eyespot. At last there could be no doubt in anybody's mind that Tara was alive. Her survival as a wild tigress had shown that it was indeed possible to take a zoo-born cub of the fifth generation and reintroduce her to her native habitat more than 8000 kilometres away.”
“Since last years three tigresses have been declared man-eaters, and two tigers and three tigresses have been shot. In no instance have the cubs been successfully rescued. Thus we treat our national animal. The remedy surely is to tranquilise these hard-pressed animals and translocate them to favourable areas, but it is easier to kill them and apportion their skins to the murderers – even in death wildlife must pay for itself.”
While I have the highest regard for Mr. Arjan Singh’s sincerity and sentiments, as a scientist, my views differ from his.
When considering any proposal for reintroduction of any hand-reared carnivore into the wild, there are some basic questions that must be answered from the view points of science, economics and administration. I summarise and answer these:-
a) Does the species in question have such a poor status in the wild that its successful rejuvenation from the wild stock is doubtful and that re-introduction of captive-bred animals is hence justifiable as an essential restoration measure?
Surely there has never been any question about the reproduction success in the various wild population groups of the Indian tiger. In every single instance as observed in the various sanctuaries, National Parks and Tiger Reserves the response to protection and habitat development measures has been encouraging.
b) Is the area, where the rehabilitation of a captive-bred carnivore is proposed, genetically isolated from other population groups and is the population size so small as to lead to genetic deterioration from in-breeding?
When seen from this stand-point, Dudhwa is a marginal case. It certainly has the possibility of inter-area movement of tigers with respect to the forests of South Kheri and Pilibhit divisions. Possibly a more logical solution will be to improve the conservation measures in these adjoining forest areas and create a minimum corridor link so as to provide the ecological communication necessary to ensure genetic diversity.
c) Being aware that it is necessary to genetically enrich a fragmented population in an isolated area by inducting the “genes” from another “pool”, is reintroduced of a captive-bred carnivore the best available option to carry this out?
Let us consider what other options are available. With the know-how and experience available in drug immobilisation and long distance transport of major carnivores (including the tiger), it is now possible to translocate adult or near-adult tigers or leopards from one reserve to the other. By a careful selection with respect to age and sex of the animal to be translocated and the selection of a particular segment in the concerned area for release, it is possible to achieve the desired results without causing problems. As an example, it may be cited that if an adult or near-adult tigress is captured from a rich gene pool area and released in “the diffusion area” in another tiger habitat, she has all the chances of acceptance and establishment. In order to monitor the success of such a trans-location attempt, the released animal can be radio-collared. (While there can be other alternatives to bring about inter-breeding between tigers belonging to different gene pools, it is not necessary to go into the details of these here). The best online games on the most popular kizi site for children and adults.
We might now proceed to examine the relative efficacy of the two options discussed so far, i.e., rehabilitation of a hand-reared carnivore and the translocation of a wild carnivore from one area to the other. From the point of view of sheer effort and cost, the latter is far preferable because “capture and translocation” is a one-time operation involving only a fraction of the cost and time that would have to go in the protracted process (2 to 4 years) of rearing, acclimatising and finally re-introducing a hand-reared carnivore. Radio-telemetric monitoring would, of course, be an essential requirement in either case.
Having discussed the time and financial aspect, let us examine the social and administrative implications of the two alternatives. A hand-reared carnivore inevitably learns to depend for food upon the person(s) responsible for bringing it up. This association with man, howsoever, exclusive, results in the development of a tiger that does not fear man. I need hardly say that all wild animals -- and tigers are no exception -- regard man as a super-being, best left alone. It is in fact this ontogenic understanding descending through timeless generations among the wild animals that gives man his protection from the “beast”.
With careful initiation it is possible to gradually acquaint a captive-bred predator with the wild environs and thus seek to rehabilitate it there. The animal thus reintroduced will, however, have a tendency to occasionally visit the place of his pre-release rearing, (particularly when he has had to go hungry for a few days – not at all an unusual situation in free living wild conditions). In encounters with other persons on such occasions, the tiger may not always shy away from men. He might even attempt to go close to a man, because of his prior association, seeking food. The reaction of a frightened person, will be to run away from the tiger. This is sure to provoke the predatory instinct of the tiger and it may, if not in the first then in subsequent incidents, end up in serious mauling or even killing of men.
Besides the above example there can be several situations where encounters between men and such a re-introduced predator may occur. This establishes the hazardous potential inherent in the attempts at rehabilitating hand-reared carnivores, and makes the proposal socially and administratively unacceptable.
“We have strong evidence that ‘Tara’ does not even have half Indian blood. She is a hybrid of several sub-species from the Siberian (Panthera tigris altaica) to the Sumatran (Panthera tigris sumatre) tigers. Whether or not this is desirable, is a matter for consideration among concerned authorities.”
“Project Tiger has no official views as to the possibility or otherwise of re-introduction of hand-reared predators. We have nevertheless dispassionately analysed the utility of such an experiment and do not consider it worthwhile.”
by H.S. Panwar and Billy Arjan Singh, First published in Sanctuary Asia, Vol. II. No. 1, January/March 1982.