Releasing Captive Tigers

Releasing Tigers - Page 1: Releasing Captive-Bred Species | 2 & 3: Issues Specific To The Tiger |
4 to 9: Xiongsheng Bear & Tiger Entertainment City | 10&11: Tiger Moon Sanctuary

Learning to hunt:

Expert Comment: It is impossible to teach zoo-bred tigers to fend for themselves in the wild.

Answer From Tiger Moon: This has already been done. To date the Karoo Bengal tigers have been successful in hunting baboon, vervet monkeys, hyrax, porcupine, antbear, warthog and blesbuck. This is all recorded on film.

Tiger Territory Note: It is accepted that this problem can already be partially solved. However, a tiger with only a partial knowledge of hunting techniques, combined with one which has already experienced food dependence on humans, leads to a very bad combination. The outcome is a tiger with a tendency to hang around human settlements and with a high risk of becoming a man-eater or attacking domestic stock as they make easy prey.

Introducing a new carnivore:

Expert Comment: Mixing carnivores will create a problem.

Answer From Tiger Moon: Leopards and tigers interact in Asia. There is scientific evidence that shows that in Nargarhole National Park, tiger?s and leopard?s prey selection overlap by 94%. It is not intended to introduce lions.

Tiger Territory Note: Where multiple carnivores occur naturally various ecological barriers prevent them conflicting. They may occur in areas which only have a slight overlap; they may prey on the same species, but one takes larger animals, while the other takes the young. The overlap may not matter as the number of prey animals in a given area may be very high, plenty enough to feed all the local carnivores. There has been no indication that the amount of available prey as compared to the requirements of the existing and new carnivores has been studied. What is said is that the area could hold enough prey species for the existing carnivores and a small number of tigers. It can only be presumed that the area presently does not have the required prey base and that these would also need to be established within the area. The intention is to substantially increase the number of tigers being maintained so this needs careful consideration.

Bio-diversity issues:

Expert Comment: The introduction of tigers into the Karoo would destroy the bio-diversity of the land.

Answer From Tiger Moon: The bio-diversity of the northern Karoo where the Sanctuary will be located has been systematically destroyed by 200 years of sheep farming. The project is aimed at restoring the bio-diversity that has been lost.

Tiger Territory Note: Depending upon the condition of the land, and what was there originally, it may, or may not significantly improve. Damaged land never recovers its original luxurious growth, but it may be replaced by other less-desirable plant life.


Expert Comment: The tiger is not a true African experience and will be seen as a tourist gimmick

Answer From Tiger Moon: If the project is communicated correctly and people are made aware of the project and its ultimate objectives, people will be keenly interested. In fact tigers in a natural setting are so spectacular that they will attract large numbers of people.

Tiger Territory Note: It is probable that the local people will be resistant to introducing another carnivore. This is a natural reaction, especially with the tiger's reputation as a man-eater. Given this, an attack or an escape from the area would almost certainly spell disaster for the project.

Money, money, money....

Expert Comment: The proposal is a classic case of tourism objectives driving conservation goals.

Answer From Tiger Moon: We can make no excuse for using eco-tourism to achieve conservation objectives: on the one hand to assist in the saving of the tiger from extinction and on the other to return the northern Karoo to its former productive state. In South Africa there is no other way, other than eco-tourism, of financing any significant conservation project. The state has clearly set its priorities: people come first. Scientific and on-the-ground conservation efforts take a back seat. This has recently been seen in the severe pruning and even closing of the Kruger Park and KwaZuluNatal Conservation Service scientific departments. Only private enterprise can fill the gap. This requires the raising of capital and a return on investment, albeit, in the long term.

Tiger Territory Note: There is an unfortunate emphasis within the project goals on financial return. This has been noted and a cause of concern from conservationists. Tiger Territory acknowledges that the breeding and maintaining of tigers is an expensive practice, but it would seem that this project needs to supply neither food nor housing which will be a large saving. Though a need to cover expenses can perhaps be understood there is a danger that conservation will be lost in favour of tourism.

The future:

Expert Comment: Is the reintroduction of captive tigers a feasible option for the future?

Answer From Tiger Moon: To our mind the most important aspect of our project is that of working closely with conservationists in Asia and China. The fundamental objective is to persuade people to stop trading in tiger parts and to set aside sufficiently large blocks of land to support tiger populations. Achieving these objectives may take longer than it takes to drive the tiger into extinction. We may be able to bridge that gap.

Tiger Territory Note: The objective of "persuade(ing) people to stop trading in tiger parts" is unlikely to have significant impact since the practice of using wildlife in medicines is so ingrained. More pressure could be applied if the project was based in an Asian country. Most of the people who regularly use tiger products will not have television, radio, or the Internet. They are unlikely to even know of the existence of the Tiger Moon Sanctuary. Even if the tigers could be bred and released, they would still go on to become fodder for poachers and end up being sold on the black market.

Conclusion: Tiger Moon Sanctuary bears watching. It is run by people with experience in African wildlife safaris and it has high goals. The project is still very on in its development so whether or not the stated aims and goals can be realised still remains to be seen.

Releasing Tigers - Page 1: Releasing Captive-Bred Species | 2 & 3: Issues Specific To The Tiger |
4 to 9: Xiongsheng Bear & Tiger Entertainment City | 10&11: Tiger Moon Sanctuary

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