photo: Paul Mannix via flickr
That's not a typo in the headline: India's Sariska Tiger Reserve saw its last tiger killed by poachers in 2004, but according to new research published in Tropical Conservation Science tigers brought in from Ranthambhore National Park to repopulate Sariska in 2008 have successfully reestablished themselves. So, some tentative good news from tiger conservation. The news is only tentatively good because at current rates on reintroduction, and assuming all the adult big cats survive, by 2016 there will be just 14 adult tigers in Sariska. The current plan is for three more tigers to be introduced every two years for the next six years.
photo: Dan Lundberg via flickr
Mongabay, which publishes Tropical Research Letters, highlights an interesting observation regarding what the tigers are feeding on:
Researching over 115 kill sites, scientists found that nearly half of the tiger's prey was made up of sambar deer, while nearly 20 percent of it was livestock, which had been left unprotected far from human dwellings. Surveys have shown that locals largely approve of the reintroduction of the tiger and view their attacks on livestock as generally culling sick and weak individuals.
Good to see that there's a nuanced understanding of what livestock tigers prefer to kill going on here. More of this is needed.
Read the original report: Monitoring of reintroduced tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Western India: preliminary findings on home range, prey selection and food habits [PDF]
To give you an idea about why such small numbers of tigers being reintroduced into a reserve is good news, globally the statistics on tigers are pretty much grim in the extreme. In the past two decades alone wild tiger populations around the world have declined 96.8%, through a combination of habitat loss and poaching.
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More on Tigers:
Wild Tiger Population Dropped by 96.8% in 20 Years
'Lost Tigers' Living in Bhutan Himalayas Now Found & Filmed
Fewer Than 50 Wild Tigers Left in China, Says Wildlife Conservation Society
Myanmar Creates World's Largest Tiger Sanctuary