Rebuilding populations and preserving genetic diversity among endangered animals is the goal of many conservation projects, and one such effort recently saw the release of two tigers into the Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) in Uttarakhand, India. The move translocated the animals from the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) and was a collaborative effort between the Uttarakhand Forest Department, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India.
It’s hoped by moving the two tigers, the project will provide a much-needed surge in the number of breeding tigers in the western part of the RTR, potentially bringing its number of resident tigers to over 30. Photographic evidence of tigers until now have indicated there were just two in this part of the reserve.
The two finalists were selected for their breeding potential, with hopes that three more will later join them in their new digs. They have been moved to an area with a high density of ungulates (hoofed mammals), which should be sufficient to support a growing group of hungry tigers. This combined with efforts to restore the habitat, strengthened monitoring and patrolling, corridor management (to connect habitats), and the continued and considered selection of breeding tigers to be translocated to the site was shown in scientific models to boost their numbers.
“[This] long-awaited translocation mission has taken shape in [the] form of one male and one female tiger in the Western area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve,” said Shri J. S. Suhag, chief wildlife warden for Uttarakhand, in a statement. “The support and team effort of WWF, WII, and NTCA has made it possible to achieve this. This will enable to enrich not only [the] tiger population, but also will contribute to the attraction of wildlife tourist[s].”
In the video below, one of the two translocated tigers can be seen needing no encouragement as it makes a speedy exit through some trees. IFLScience has been told by a representative from the WWF that the indignant trump of an elephant heard shortly after its release was from a captive animal, not the tiger's first meal.
New monitoring protocols are to be introduced with the tigers’ arrival, with each animal having already been fitted with a radio collar. It’s hoped this data will provide new insights into the range, territorial dynamics, ecology, and predatory behavior of these individuals that could inform more effective conservation efforts in the future.
"This landmark translocation to recover tigers in the western part of Rajaji has been possible due to the collaboration with the Uttarakhand Forest Department, Wildlife Institute of India and National Tiger Conservation Authority and decisive action on the part of the government,” said Dr Dipankar Ghose, director for Wildlife and Habitats, WWF India, in a statement. “WWF India will continue its work in and around Rajaji along with the stakeholders including local communities to ensure restoring connectivity in this part of the landscape and help secure the survival of wild tigers, their prey and habitats."