12 tigers from Assam to fly to Bengal’s tiger reserve

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Kolkata: Over a dozen adult tigers from Assam would be flown in on cargo helicopters to rejuvenate the tiger population at Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar district of West Bengal.

The tigers would be transported from Manas and Orang national parks in Assam which have witnessed a rise in tiger population during the latest census in May this year. There are over 140 tigers in Assam in four major tiger reserves, the other two being Kaziranga and Nameri.

The move to bring in tigers from Assam was taken to shut controversies revolving around the population of tigers at Buxa and the central funds allotted for them, sources at West Bengal Forest Department revealed.

While WB government claimed that footprints of three fully grown tigers were found at the 760 square kilometer tiger reserve that lies at the Indo-Bhutan international border, several wildlife activists claimed that not a single tiger remained there and all migrated to Bhutan. So, without the presence of tigers, wildlife activists raised questions over Buxa’s ‘tiger reserve’ status and central funds allotted to it.

Wildlife officials said that after getting approval from the Assam authorities, the 12 adult tigers would be tranquilised and transported in cargo helicopters by either putting them in cages inside the helicopters or by airlifting them by hanging them by the stomach. Sources in the forest department said that moving the fully grown adult tigers by road would have been risky.

Forest minister Binay Barman said that he is looking up to Assam for speedy approval for transportation of the tigers. “We hope Assam approves transportation of the 12 tigers soon. We are hopeful that the entire process gets completed by this yearend or by early next year,” he said.

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