Even as Sultan, the tiger captured from Chandrapur and shifted to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in December last year, finally mated with one of the four tigresses there, raising hope for the long-awaited first litter in the park, the recently-captured Rajura tiger, RT1, may be shifted to SGNP on a recent request by the latter.
SGNP Conservator of Forest, G Mallikarjun, told The Indian Express, “We have requested the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) for another male tiger. We need to have it for ensuring genetic variety among our tigers.”
“Sultan couldn’t mate with any of the tigresses for a long time. About 15 days ago, it finally mated with one of the tigresses, called Mastani… but we have to wait for at least a month before we can say with surety if the tigress has conceived,” said Mallikarjun.
He added:, “Even if we have a litter from the tigress, we need to have genetic variety and avoid in-breeding. For that, we need another male.”
In-charge Chief Wildlife Warden, M K Rao, said, “I have received a letter from SGNP requesting a tiger. We will put the proposal before a committee to decide about it.”
Some reports have stated that the Forest department may shift Rajura tiger RT1 to SGNP. “RT1could be considered for the purpose,” said Rao.
RT1, responsible for killing eight persons in Rajuru-Virur ranges in Chandrapur district, was captured on October 28 and is currently lodged in Nagpur’s Gorewada Rescue Centre.
Sultan, aged about five years, was captured from Brahmapuri forest in Chandrapur district in 2018 after it had killed two persons.
SGNP currently has four tigresses and Sultan, a male tiger. One male tiger called Yash died of cancer in May last year. The other, called Anand, aged about 10 years, died in June this year. He was an offspring of the oldest female tiger, Basanti, about 18 years of age, and was a sibling of Laxmi. So breeding was not possible among them.
Anand was found incapable of mating with the other two tigresses, Bijli and Mastani, who were procured from Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) three years ago. Even Yash was unable to mate with the two tigresses. So, Sultan was requisitioned for breeding purposes.
Bijli and Mastani, aged nine years, were brought to SGNP from PTR two years ago after the Forest department’s attempt to release them in the wild failed. They were rescued as orphan cubs from Chandrapur district.
Mallikarjun said the SGNP has also sought three more lions. “We currently have three lions, one female and two males. Since they are blood relatives, breeding is not possible. So, I have requested the CWW for at least three lions, two males and a female,” he said.