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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Ludhiana Tiger Safari welcomes 2 Royal Bengal tigresses

Lone tiger safari in Punjab had just one big cat left; another male to be brought from Bilaspur soon.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: February 5, 2020 9:34:35 pm
Chirag, one of the tigresses, at the safari in Ludhiana on Sunday. Gurmeet Singh

TWO ROYAL Bengal tigresses have arrived at the Ludhiana Tiger Safari, more than six years after its last three tigresses passed away within months of each other.

Chirag and Ichran arrived at the safari, spread across 25 acres on Ludhiana-Jalandhar road and the only one in Punjab, a few days ago from Mohendra Chaudhary Zoological Park (Chhatbir zoo). Another male is expected to arrive from Bilaspur in Chattisgarh soon.

With the arrival of the two tigresses, the safari now has three big cats, including Mani, the last surviving male. Deepak, another male, had passed away recently.

Khushwinder Singh, divisional wildlife officer, Phillaur range, said Chirag and Ichran are being released in the jungles on a trial basis. However, all three will not be released together due to compatibility issues. “They are being released turn-wise on a daily basis. We still do not know if the trio will gel together or not,” he added.

Speaking about the tiger expected to arrive from Bilaspur, the DFO said, “We have tied up with Rohtak wildlife officials in Haryana as they too are getting two tigers from Bilaspur. So to save transportation cost, all three will be shifted together in coming days.”

Ichran was born at Bannerghatta zoo near Bengaluru in 2006. (Express photo)

Both the new tigresses were born in captivity. “Chirag was born at Ludhiana Tiger Safari in 2008 to the two tigers we had earlier — Paras and Chorni. Ichran was also born in captivity at Bannerghatta Zoo near Bengaluru in Karnataka and later shifted to Chhatbir,” said Narinder Singh, a forest guard at the safari.

In 2013, three tigresses of the Ludhiana Tiger Safari — Shanti, Elaichi and Mohini — passed away within a short duration, causing panic. In 2013, the two remaining males — Deepak and Mani — and one of the deceased tigresses were found to have been infected with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that mainly affects the liver and kidneys. The state government had decided not to introduce any new tigers till the infection wasn’t wiped out.

DFO Singh said that on December 20 last year, Deepak, who was nearly 18 years of age, also passed away. “He died a natural death. He was very old. Both Deepak and Mani were cured of lepto long ago,” he added. On December 19 last year, The Indian Express was the first to report that the safari was set to welcome new tigers and revive its breeding programme.

“Vets will now be working on the compatibility levels of four tigers once the new male also arrives. As of now, Chirag and Ichran are trying to adjust and we are releasing them in jungles one by one. We are yet to introduce three of them to each other and they are kept separately,” said forest guard Narinder Singh.

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