tiger rescue centre of the country will be ready to welcome big cats in three
months. Being developed at Jharkhali in the Sunderbans, the centre will provide
asylum to injured and straying tigers that are either brought to Kolkata for
treatment or released in far corners of the mangrove forest. Even though fenced
off from the rest of the jungle, the centre will be contiguous to the main
Sunderbans and allow tigers to roam free in the wild. They will, however, not
be able to leave the centre which will be fenced off.
Work on the
centre's outer fence is complete. 15 feet high iron bars have been erected to
create a boundary that cuts it from the rest of the forest. There will be an
inner periphery with a lower fence made of bars interspersed with chain-links.
It will mark separate enclosures for four tigers across a 100-acre area.
Boost for tiger conservation
the Chhoto Herobhanga river, the centre will be enclosed on all four sides and
have waterbodies apart from enough mangrove cover for tigers to feel "at
home", said Pradip Vyas, director, Sunderban Biosphere Reserve. "It
will allow us to treat injured tigers in the forest itself which will spare them
the agony of having to spend months at the zoo hospital in Alipore. While they
will be able to stay back in the forest, the tigers will remain protected at
importantly, they will have an assured supply of food, which will help the
injured big cats recover fast. The straying tigers, too, will get used to
remaining confined in the jungle," said Vyas.
other tiger rehabilitation centre in the state is located at Khairbari in North
Bengal. It is, however, not an open centre and tigers are kept in cages.
"We are keen to make sure that the Jharkhali centre does not turn into a
zoo for ageing and injured big cats. Neither do we want injured tigers to spend
months in a constricted hospital, away from the forest environment. This is an
ideal setting that we can have," added Vyas.
New accommodation for big cats
cages and four ordinary ones have been placed at the centre. These will be used
for treatment. A team of veterinary surgeons will be posted along with a group
of forest department staff who will monitor the big cats. The centre will also
have a watch-tower. "We have marked corridors around the centre that will
be patrolled by forest guards who will keep a watch," said Vyas.
with, two tigers will receive shelter at the centre. It can accommodate two
more and treat at least four to six big cats simultaneously. The forest
department is also planning to shift some of the ageing tigers of Alipore Zoo
to the centre. "The zoo has a space problemwhile there will be enough room
for 2-3 tigers at Jharkhali
the availability of space, we can accommodate a couple of tigers here. But we
must consult experts to find out if zoo tigers can acclimatize to the forest
conditions," said a forest department official.
hailed the move to have a natural rehabilitation centre for tigers.
let the tigers remain in their natural habitat and home environment," said
Pranabesh Sanyal, former director of Sunderban Tiger Reserve. "The
authorities should make sure that the rescue centre functions as such and
doesn't turn into a zoo in the jungle," said Joydeep Kundu, member of the state