Text by Paul Kvinta
The Indian Forest Service can't seem to get it right when it comes to protecting tigers. First, they allow one of the country's most high-profile tiger reserves, Sariska National Park, to be completely poached out of the big cats (read more in "Cat Fight," June/July 2009). Now, their dramatic and face-saving effort to reintroduce tigers to the park has apparently flopped as well. Experts fear that the one male and two females that were helicoptered to Sariska last year from nearby Rhanthambhore National Park—both reserves are in the northern state of Rajasthan—all share the same father, which won't exactly make for a diverse gene pool.
A quick and dirty DNA test before the relocation could have prevented this fiasco, says India's leading tiger scientist Ullas Karanth in the Hindustan Times:
“Why take chances when a DNA test can resolve such issues? These relocation drives seem like knee-jerk exercises done in a hurry but we cannot compromise on science.”
India has about 1,400 wild tigers, more than any other country and about a quarter of the world's population. The country remains the last best chance for tigers on the planet, but at this rate….
Editor's Note: You can help save the tigers, currently tied with lions as the most endangered big cats on the planet, by donating to Tiger Watch , a conservation group that tracks down poachers and works with local people to protect the tigers. Learn more about Tiger Watch and their stalwart advocate Dharmendra Khandal in our feature story "Cat Fight."
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