The authorities of Odisha’s Nandankanan Zoo have said they have prepared a roadmap to rewild captive-born tigers in order to increase their number in the state’s forests.
Rewilding is a conservation strategy used to promote biodiversity in an area by reintroducing plant and animal species that have been decreased mainly because of humans.
On the occasion of International Tiger Day on Friday, Nandankanan Zoo Director Manoj V Nair said that the captive-born tiger cubs will be released into forests as part of the rewilding process but it may take around a year as a scientific process needs to be followed.
The Nandankanan Zoo presently houses 26 tigers including 16 normal-coloured Royal Bengal Tigers, seven white RBTs and three melanistic tigers.
Nair said that Nandankanan Zoo, in association with National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, plans to start research on the genetic characteristics of the zoo’s tigers.
The zoo has a wild tiger named ‘Nandan’. Efforts will be made to pass on the breed’s characteristics to the next generation so that the newborns will have wild character and can easily cope with the natural environment. They will be released in tiger deficient areas of Odisha, he said.
”We hope that the research findings will be available within a year. Thereafter, we will have a report on good breeding for the rewilding process,” Nair said adding that Nandankanan is the first zoo in the country to make a move in this direction.
According to the 2018 census, Odisha presently has 28 tigers in the wild and the government has plans to create two more Tiger Reserves at Debrigarh and Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuaries.
The state now has two tiger reserves at Simipal National Park and Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary.
As part of the celebrations of International Tiger Day, the Nandankanan Zoo authorities fed chicken to the big cats.
The Odisha Postal Circle also issued a commemorative postal cover and postcard to mark the special day.
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