Tiger Tiger Burning Bright?

How do you solve a problem like a ‘killer’ tiger? Normally, there would be no chance of that tiger being allowed to roam free – death or captivity would be the inevitable ending. But some amazing work going on in India may have found an alternative.

Second chance for rescued ‘problem’ tiger

Care for the Wild has worked with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) since 2010 for the protection of India’s tigers, as lead conservation partner of informer networks and wildlife crime intelligence in the south of India.

This week the team reported a landmark success for WTI and the Assam Forest Department – the sighting of a previous ‘problem’ tiger released into the wild over 1000 days ago signifying his successful rehabilitation.

(Video Copyright WTI)

The adult male tiger had to be removed from his home by WTI and IFAW following the attack of three people and resulting deaths of two – without removal ‘killer’ tigers are prone to being targeted for retribution killings by the devastated villagers.

In most cases, problem tigers like this male would either be euthanized or sent to a life in captivity, however in 2010 the team undertook a momentous challenge in attempting to rehabilitate him into the wild.

The selection of the site was crucial, and the search necessarily rigorous. An area was identified – Manas National Park in the North-East of India. Although the area has a good prey base, there were other dominant males with which he would need to compete with for territory. Also, the potential for similar conflict between the male and local people would have to be watched closely.

The team had unfortunately lost contact with the tiger’s radio collar after a month of his release and although there were no reports of attack, there was also no further information on his survival. Thus, the team were delighted when he was photographed by a ‘camera-trap’, confirming his successful reintroduction and survival in the wild!

Due to the success in this case, the Wildlife Trust of India suggest this could become a model for the rehabilitation of tigers involved in human-wildlife conflict, giving more tigers previously written off as aggressive their second chance.

Dr NVK Ashraf, Chief Operating Officer, Wildlife Trust of India, celebrates the findings, “The photographs acquired through camera-traps indicate its survival in the wild. And, there has been no report of attacks on people by this tiger since its release, presenting a hope that rehabilitation can be a viable option for tigers involved in conflicts”.

Read the full story from our project partner WTI here.

Read more about Care for the Wild’s tiger protection work here.