In news- Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) recently reintroduced into the wild an abandoned nine-month-old tiger cub named Mangala after rearing it in ‘captivity’ for two years.
- Rewilding refers to reintroducing lost animal species to natural environments.
- It is a conservation strategy aimed at restoring natural processes and wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas (corridors), and reintroducing large herbivores, predators and/or keystone species.
- It was first academically defined in 1998 by American conservation biologists Michael Soule and Reed Noss.
- As per the Standard Operating Procedures laid down by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, there are three ways to deal with orphaned or abandoned tiger cubs.
- To make an effort to reunite the abandoned cubs with their mother.
- If a reunion of the cub with its mother is not possible, then shift the cub to a suitable zoo.
- Release the cub into the wild after a certain time when it appears that the cub is capable of surviving in the wild independently.
- NTCA stresses that the tiger cub should be reared in an in situ enclosure for a minimum of two years, and during this time, each cub should have a successful record of at least 50 ‘kills’.
- At the time of releasing the cub in the wild, they should be in prime health, and of dispersing age (three/four years).
- There should be no abnormality/incapacitation.
Previous attempts at re-wilding of carnivores in India-
- Three leopards – a male named Prince and two females, Harriet and Juliette and a Siberian tigress cub named Tara were reintroduced in Dudhwa forest area in the 1970s.
- The rewilding in Panna Tiger Reserve of two abandoned tigress cubs, named T4 and T5, that were brought up at Kanha Tiger Reserve, is considered to be a success in tiger conservation.
- In March 2021, a three-year-old tigress, PTRF-84, the daughter of the ‘man-eater’ tigress T1, was released in the Pench Tiger Reserve after two years of a rewilding programme.
- Just eight days after being released, PTRF-84 died of injuries sustained during a territorial clash in the jungle.
Rewilding is not limited to cats. The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in collaboration with the Haryana Forest and Wildlife Department has been running a vulture conservation centre named ‘Jatayu’ near Pinjore for the last 17 years. An Elephant Rehabilitation Centre (ERC) has been running in Yamunanagar, Haryana.