WASHINGTON, July 3, 2008 – In a groundbreaking effort to preserve the species, an endangered Bengal tiger was relocated to the Sariska tiger reserve in India on June 28th—an area where the entire tiger population was wiped out a few years ago.
The young male tiger was airlifted by helicopter from the Ranthambore tiger reserve by the Government of Rajasthan and the Government of India with the help of WWF. The tiger is in good health and appears to be adapting to his new surroundings. He was outfitted with a tracking collar provided by WWF to allow reserve staff to monitor his whereabouts and ensure his safety after release. The tiger is currently in an enclosure while scientists closely observe his movements and behavior. When scientists are confident of his progress, the tiger will be released into the open reserve. Additional tigers are expected to be introduced in the near future, the next being a female tiger also from Ranthambore, which could be transported as soon as next week.
“Tiger numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate and it is imperative we take action now to keep them from disappearing altogether,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, director of WWF’s Species Conservation Program. “The killing off of the entire population in Sariska was devastating, but we hope the reintroduction of the species in this reserve will spawn a new population and ultimately expand the region where tigers can grow and flourish.”
There may be as few as 1,400 wild tigers remaining in India and fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left in the world. Populations are fast declining due to poaching—killing for their skins and parts—and habitat loss. This relocation is the first of its kind in India and a testimony to the government’s intent to preserve the iconic species.
- The tiger relocation was undertaken by the Forest Department, the Government of Rajasthan, the Wildlife Institute of India, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Environment & Forests, the Ministry of Defense, the Government of India, the Indian Air Force and WWF.
- Photos of the relocation are available by request.