Mumbai: Bijlee and Mastani set to roar into SGNP's safari

The twins brought from Pench earlier this year, warm up to new home and their caretakers; will be moved to tiger safari by January next year

Bijlee and Mastani were brought to the Sanjay Gandhu National Park in July
Bijlee and Mastani were brought to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in July

Bijlee and Mastani, the twin tigresses brought from Pench National Park to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in July are finally warming up to their new home, by responding positively to the training being given to them. By this weekend, the duo would be shifted in the enclosures near their prospective males and by January or February next year, they will be ready to be part of SGNP’s tiger safari.

Superintendent of Tiger and Lion Safari at SGNP Shailesh Deore said, “We are happy to see that the tigresses brought to the park from Pench are responding well to the training being given to them. They understand the commands given to them by the caretaker, which is a very positive sign.”

Ever since they got here in July, the 8-year-olds were kept in quarantine at an isolated location away from the other tigers, so that they get time to relax and get accustomed to the new surroundings. Bijlee has been very aggressive, which was a cause for concern for the authorities, but over the period of three months, she has calmed down.

Shifted with males
“Soon the tigresses would be shifted to cages near the prospective males in the park, after which we would monitor their behaviour. The good thing is that they have started understanding the commands of our staff that give them food and clean their cages. When their caretakers approach the cages to clean them, the tigresses move into the adjacent cage. If everything goes as per plan, then next year the tourists might be able to see them in the safari,” said Shailesh Pethe, veterinary officer of SGNP.

The tigresses were brought to the park because the authorities wanted to increase the population of tigers in the park. By Friday, they would be shifted near the enclosures of the tigers. Once the tigresses get comfortable over the next two months, they would be shifted to secondary enclosures and later, in the safari area.

Compatibility
The decision to allow the tigresses with the tigers would depend on the compatibility they share because if they are suddenly released into the same cage, there are chances of fights.

The biggest challenge in front of the authorities is to making the tigers accustomed to human presence, since they have had negligent contact with humans at their earlier home, Pench.

The big cats of SGNP
SGNP is currently home to seven tigers. They are four female, two male Royal Bengal and one white tiger, Bajirao. Earlier this month, the park lost 13-year-old Palash, one of its star attractions. Of the eight tigers, Anand, Yash and Laxmi are his offspring with tigress Basanti.

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