There has been no effort to increase the number of captive tigers in the state with authorities making no attempt to mate the tigers in Punjabs zoos for the past 6 years. Chief wildlife warden Dhirendra Singh,however,claims that the tiger population in captivity is enough and if it was required,the tigers would be mated.
There are 16 captive tigers in the state and they are housed at the Chatbir and Ludhiana zoos.
Of these 9 are male while the rest are tigresses. Even if the authorities want to increase the captive tiger population,they are set to face major hurdles as 5 of the tigers have been sterilised,for which the wildlife department has no records,and many of the rest belong to the same family and hence cannot be mated.
The Ludhiana zoo is reflective of the authorities apathy towards any attempt to increase the tiger population. Out of the 5 tigers in the zoo,2 are male and the rest females. Both the male tigers have been sterilised and no effort has been made to introduce new male tigers for the past six years.
The authorities should make the pairs compatible so as to allow the mating of the tigers. They should seek expert advice in the procedure, said Dr Sandeep Jain,from the Care of Animals and Protection of Environment(CAPE),India.
Officially there has been no breeding of tigers for more than 6 years because employees dont want to risk mating tigers belonging to the same families. In the absence of any proper record of the tigers breeding,their families,we cannot take risk of their mating. Moreover they can attack at each other at times,so no one wants to take that risk as well, said a zoo employee on the condition of anonymity.
At the Chatbir zoo on the other hand,there are a total of 11 tigers,of which seven are males. Only four tigers have the potential to breed and the rest have been sterilised. Recently,a white tiger and tigress have been added to the tiger population but as per the chief wildlife warden,they will be mixed with the other tigers after a while.
Animal rights activists point out that the tigers need to be given a congenial environment when they are cubs and so they become compatible couples. The activists add that the tigers cannot be allowed to mate all of a sudden as it may result in them attacking each other. The chief wildlife warden,however,says: Whenever we need to increase the population of tigers in the zoo,their mating will be done and it is not a difficult task. Our expert teams know how to get the mating of the compatible couples done and there is no need to worry about their numbers in Punjab zoos.