The cub following its mother caught on camera in Sariska on Tuesday night
Jaipur, Aug. 8: Sariska, infamous as the reserve that lost all its tigers to poaching in 2005, now has a cub to celebrate.
A camera trap caught the cub, thought to be a month and a half old, following its mother in the Slopka region of the sanctuary last night.
The sighting has cheered conservationists who see it as proof that the translocation of tigers — one of the most scrutinised wildlife projects in India — has succeeded, if a little late.
The mother, eight-year-old ST-2, is one of six big cats relocated to Sariska since 2008 from other reserves as part of a project undertaken jointly by the Centre and the state to repopulate the park.
“Now we can safely say the translocation project is a success and that it has yielded result,” K. Sankar of the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, told The Telegraph over phone. The institute gave technical support to the Rs 1.5-crore project.
In 2008, a tiger was moved to the 881sqkm national park in Alwar by helicopter from the overcrowded Ranthambhore reserve. Thereafter, three tigresses and two tigers were shifted to the park. But one of them was found dead in 2010, and the relocation experiment was questioned when none of the tigresses gave birth.
Critics called it a failure and said it was rushed through without analysis of the long-term consequences. It was also argued that radio collars fitted on the big cats was a reason they were not mating.
So the sighting last night has brought relief to the scientists who conceived and executed the project.
The cub is being protected and cared for by its mother in the Kalighati area of the forest. The tigress’s movement is restricted as it cannot venture far from its cub.
“Seeing ST-2’s movement restricted in July, we cordoned off the area and gave complete protection to her and turned it into a no-disturbance zone,” Sankar said.
Sariska field director R.S. Shekhawat echoed him, saying extra guards were deployed and minimum human interference in the area was ensured since July.