Kolkata: Following the success of tiger relocation at Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, wildlife experts and forest officials have proposed introduction of six big cats in West Bengal's Buxa Tiger Reserve. The tigers will come from Assam.
Fringed by forests of Bhutan and Assam, and tea gardens, Buxa in north Bengal has not reported consistent sighting of tigers in nearly three decades.
The forest department claims that the habitat can support a tiger population as there is abundant prey in Buxa, Jaldapara and Gorumara.
Sources have told NDTV that Buxa will get six tigers - two males and four females - from Assam which has a surplus tiger population. The tigers were selected due to similarities in climate conditions and genetics.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr Pradeep Vyas said, "Only three tigers have been spotted there. Though Buxa is a Tiger Reserve, tiger density is extremely low. So in consultation with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, we have decided to augment the tiger population in Buxa."
The forest department has set up four chowkies in the areas where tigers will be introduced. The plan will involve habitat improvement, prey augmentation and steps to mitigate possible human-tiger conflicts.
While poaching remains a major challenge, cutting of trees and human interference make things worse here. Officials, however, blamed the disappearance of tigers due to lack of adequate prey in these forests which they say has now been taken care of.
"Sunderbans with its stable tiger population has been a success story. In North Bengal, it has gone down in the last few decades, but this exercise will make ensure there are enough tigers here," Dr Vyas added.
Not all six tigers will be dropped in one go, said Wildlife Institute of India scientist K Ramesh, who was involved in the Panna Tiger Recovery programme and other tiger recovery efforts in India and Cambodia.
Mr Ramesh added, "Depending on the response, every third year we will bring two more tigers to compensate uncertainties."
(With inputs from IANS)