A tigress raised in captivity (T4) and transolcated and released in Panna, has given birth to cubs. She had been rescued at the age of three from the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The reintroduction was carried out by the Madhya Pradesh forest department with scientific inputs and monitoring by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). WII scientist Dr K Ramesh, who leads the post-release monitoring programme for tiger reintroduction, has called it a landmark development but also cautioned that it should not set the precedence for release of cubs anywhere. He added that such a programme involves specific planning and lots of effort and should be followed with utmost precaution and scientific monitoring. Ramesh pointed out that Panna’s unique landscape, with adequate prey, cover and less human disturbance, proved favorable for this experiment. T4 is said to have scored 40 to 50 percent marks in the rewilding experiments. Four exclusive teams were in place for round the clock monitoring of the animal after her relocation. Initially the tigress was also monitored from elephant back every alternate day.
Experts are divided on the issue of rewilding. Even well known cat specialist, Dr George Schaller has agreed to apprehensions of releasing captive raised cats which may lead to growing man-animal conflicts. However, others like Dr AJT Johnsingh said that “in the face of declining tiger ranges and population, such experiments if conducted scientifically may open up conservation strategies for the future”.