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Tiger mating game with genetic horoscopes
- Notorious Govardana out of contention in Bhopal sanctuary’s search for a ‘suitable boy’
A tiger plays with her cub at the city zoo. Picture by Eastern Projections

Guwahati/Bhopal, March 30: A big fat tiger wedding is coming up at the Assam State Zoo.

The match has not been finalised yet, but it is almost certain that the Guwahati-based zoo will be giving away a “son” to a national park in Madhya Pradesh that has been looking for a suitable mate for one of its lonely tigresses.

When the proposal came from Bhopal’s Van Vihar National Park a few days ago, the zoo management wrote to the Central Zoo Authority immediately for permission to send one of its tigers to Bhopal for “conservation breeding”. Once that comes through, the tigress and its prospective mates will be genetically matched to find the ideal suitor.

Van Vihar National Park has five grooms to choose from, excluding the notorious Govardana, who teamed up with his current companion Divya to maul a visitor to death on December 19 when he got too close to their enclosure.

An official said Govardana, gifted to the zoo by Karnataka in 2005, would not be considered because his genetic profile was not available.

The zoo has nine tigers, six of them male. Aniruddha, Rajiv, Joy, Bipin and Raghav are in contention for the Bhopal proposal.

“We have eligible male tigers and will be happy to provide one for conservation breeding,” the divisional forest officer in charge of the zoo, Narayan Mahanta, said.

He said permission from the Central Zoo Authority was only a formality and “should not take much time”. The zoo will send the “complete life histories” of the five shortlisted tigers to Bhopal for the national park authorities to pick the one best suited for the tigress.

“We will decide how to send the selected tiger to Bhopal in consultation with the Chief Wildlife Warden,” Mahanta said.

The Central Zoo Authority’s rules for translocation stipulate that a tiger can be sent from one zoo to another or a national park in two ways.

The first is a “breeding loan” from one zoo to another that requires a male or female of the species to increase the population. Once the numbers go up, the recipient is required to reciprocate by returning one member of the species.

The second option is the normal exchange programme, under which zoos and national parks can give or accept tigers to maintain a balance.

The principal chief conservator of forests in Madhya Pradesh, P.B. Gangopadhyaya, said he was relieved to have found five prospective male suitors for one of the tigresses at Van Vihar.

“Our search is hopefully over,” he said.

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