Two tiger cubs orphaned in India are getting ready to be reintroduced to the wild. But at just eight months old and without a mother to protect them, how’s it possible to do that safely? The answer: nice and slow.
The cubs were rescued about a month ago when their mother, a wild tigress known as PKT-7, died unexpectedly. According to the Times of India, releasing the cubs into the wild is a bit of an “experiment.” To do it properly requires careful mitigation of human contact. This will be the third time authorities are trying to “rewild” tiger cubs in the Pench Tiger Reserve.
When the cubs were discovered, they were too small to hunt on their own. At the time, they were living in an area with other adult tigers, leopards, and wild dogs, all of which are known to attack tiger cubs. Authorities decided it was ultimately best for their safety to capture and relocate them. So, rescuers fed them goat meat and concocted a plan to raise them without interfering with the instincts they’ll need when they return to the wild.
The cubs are currently living in an enclosure within the Pench Tiger Reserve. There, they’ll be able to learn survival skills away from threats from other big cats. In 2021, the reintroduction of a three-year-old tiger cub failed when the cub was released to the wild, according to the Times of India. It was attacked by another tiger three days after its release, then died from its injuries a few days later.
Pench Tiger Reserve, also known as Pench National Park, is located in central India in Madhya Pradesh. The area served as part of the inspiration for the original The Jungle Book, published in 1894, well before it became a classic movie. Of course, in that movie, the tiger was the villain. This time, we’re rooting for the tigers.
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