Mumbai: Why SGNP is getting ready to welcome two female tigers

Two female tigers are on their way from Pench Tiger Reserve as forest officials do not want the tigers in SGNP to inbreed

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is getting ready to welcome two new members — seven-year-old tigresses from Pench (the Maharashtra side) — and the happiest to see them will be the park’s tiger siblings, Anand (6) and Yash (8).

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Anand and Yash

Mating between the parks tigers has been strictly disallowed by the authorities as they all belong to the same family and in-breeding results in litters that almost always have serious genetic problems. Cubs of such litters do not even live long. Anand, Yash and Laxmi are the cubs of the park’s 13-year-old tigers, Palash and Basanti.

waiting to mate: TF1 and TF2, as the two young tigresses are called, have already started their 900-km long journey
Waiting to mate: TF1 and TF2, as the two young tigresses are called, have already started their 900-km long journey

Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar confirmed that the tigresses were on their way. He said, “In-breeding among tigers is not encouraged as it leads to genetic issues. Hence, the decision to bring the two tigresses to Mumbai’s national park was taken.”

TF1 and TF2, as the two young tigresses are called, have already started their 900-km long journey. An official from SGNP, who did not wished to be named, said, “The operation to bring the two tigresses to Mumbai from Pench started on Friday and they are expected to reach by Sunday or Monday.”

Read Story: Are tigers back in cages at Sanjay Gandhi National Park?

Sudhir Mungantiwar, Forest Minister
Sudhir Mungantiwar, Forest Minister

Field Director of Pench Tiger Reserve, Srinivas Reddy, said, “A team from Mumbai’s SGNP arrived at Pench. On Friday, the team, along with two tigresses, left for Mumbai.”

A special team, including a senior official from SGNP, along with a veterinarian and other officials, has been sent to Pench to ensure the tigresses are brought here safely.

As the journey is long, the authorities will be taking regular halts to ensure minimal trauma to the big cats during transportation.

Special care is being taken during travelling and sources told mid-day that the vehicle in which the tigresses are being transported is being monitored, as is their health.

National park officials have their fingers crossed in the hope that the tigresses will help increase the population of the big cats at the park.

At present, there are five Royal Bengal tigers at SGNP as well as a 17-year-old white tiger.

Authorities from SGNP are hoping that with the arrival of the tigresses, the tiger population will increase by next year at least.

“One of our major concerns has been the abysmally low number of captive tigers. Our tiger safari, too, is dependent on the tigers. When tigers breed within the family it causes severe genetic problems and a weaker bloodline. Bringing in new tigers will be an advantage,” an SGNP park official said.

Another official said that the tigresses that are being brought to SGNP had been rescued by forest department authorities from a forest patch in Chandrapur and officials at Pench decided to hand rear the cubs in a specially designed barricaded enclosure at the national park there.

Earlier, the authorities had planned to release the cubs in the wild but after several failed attempts, a committee was formed which decided to send the tigresses to SGNP instead.

Mungantiwar said, “It was found that the female cubs were unable to hunt as they had been hand-reared by the forest authorities.”

SGNP's tigers
Palash - 13 years old
Basanti – 13 years old
Anand - 6 years old
Laxmi - 6 years old
Yash - 8 years old
Bajirao (white tiger) – 17 years old


2,266

Total number of tigers in India as per the latest official count. India now has 70 per cent of world’s tiger population.

Mating behaviour

>> Although tigers can mate throughout the year, copulation usually happens between November and April, which are the cool months in their various habitats. Females reach sexual maturity at around three to four years of age, while males are a little older, at an average of four or five years old.
>> The tigress has a gestation period of approximately 16 weeks
>> By the age of 18 to 24 months, cubs are sufficiently equipped to hunt by themselves. Female cubs will establish their personal territory close to that of their mothers, while males tend to wander further away.
— Source: tiger.org.za

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