The two tiger cubs that were rescued on Saturday in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) after their mother died will be taken to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), or Vandalur Zoo, in Chennai.
K.K. Kaushal, Field Director of MTR, said it was decided to do so to ensure the well-being and safety of the cubs. On Sunday, a meeting was held between officials from the tiger reserve, veterinarians, and wildlife experts.
The Field Director said the cubs were healthy and were fed a special diet based on National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines. “The veterinarians felt that the cubs are highly vulnerable at this stage and need special care and infrastructure. We have neo-natal care facilities for wild animals in Chennai only. They will be there for the next four months," said Mr. Kaushal.
"The cubs will be taken there on Monday. There has been no decision taken on whether the two cubs can be brought back to MTR for in-situ rearing," he said. The cubs will be taken care of by K. Sridhar, veterinary surgeon, AAZP and K. Rajeshkumar, forest veterinarian, MTR, during the transit too.
Meanwhile, conservationists have called for the test samples taken from the adult tigress that was found dead in Singara Range to be analysed fast. “Though it is premature to speculate the cause of the animal’s death, it seems possible that the animal might have been poisoned. There needs to be a thorough investigation as to why the five Asiatic wild dogs (which died a few months ago) were poisoned. If indeed it is proved that the tiger was killed by poisoning, these incidents could set a dangerous precedent for wildlife crimes in the region,” said a conservationist.
N. Mohanraj, another conservationist, said there should be a change in policy that will slowly allow for locals, who are primarily graziers, to shift to more sustainable livelihoods that does not bring them into having problematic interactions with wildlife.
“Due to cattle being grazed in the buffer zone of the reserve, it often happens that there are many incidents of cattle-lifting by tigers and leopards. This causes retaliation in the form of poisoning events, like the one which led to the death of the five wild dogs,” said Mr. Mohanraj.
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