Poachers killed off the last Bengal tiger in India’s Sariska Tiger Reserve in 2004. Four years later, officials transferred three tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska in an attempt to repopulate the park with the world’s biggest feline. A new study in mongabay.com’s open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science evaluates the reintroduction by tracking radio-collared tigers and studying their scat.
Researching over 115 kill sites, scientists found that nearly half of the tiger’s prey was made up of sambar deer, while nearly 20 percent of it was livestock, which had been left unprotected far from human dwellings. Surveys have shown that locals largely approve of the reintroduction of the tiger and view their attacks on livestock as generally culling sick and weak individuals.
Two more tigers were reintroduced to the park this year, while the current plan calls for three additional tigers to be reintroduced every two years over the next six years, making a total of 14 adult tigers by 2016 if they all survive.
Given the precarious position of wild tigers worldwide, the authors recommend continued long-term monitoring of the newly reintroduced tigers to improve management and provide detailed information for future reintroductions.
Bengal tigers, one of five surviving subspecies, are msotly found in India, though populations survive in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, tigers are threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their body parts which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Although benefactors of some of the world’s most intensive conservation attention, tiger populations continue to fall.
CITATION: K. Sankar, Qamar Qureshi, Parag Nigam, P.K. Malik, P.R. Sinha, R.N. Mehrotra, Rajesh Gopal, Subhadeep Bhattacharjee, Krishnendu Mondal and Shilpi Gupta. 2010. Monitoring of reintroduced tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Western India: preliminary findings on home range, prey selection and food habits. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 3 (3): 301-318.
(09/20/2010) A BBC film crew has photographed Bengal tigers, including a mating pair, living far higher than the great cats have been documented before. Camera traps captured images and videos of tigers living 4,000 meters (over 13,000 feet) in the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan.
(09/15/2010) The cost of maintaining the planet’s 3,500 remaining wild tigers is around $80 million a year, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS Biology.
(08/04/2010) Myanmar has announced that Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve will be nearly tripled in size, making the protected area the largest tiger reserve in the world. Spanning 17,477 square kilometers (6,748 square miles), the newly expanded park is approximately the size of Kuwait and larger than the US state of Connecticut.