The Madhya Pradesh government has been waiting for over three years for guidelines from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on captive rearing of orphaned tiger cubs living in its reserves.
"The concept of in-situ captive rearing of orphaned tiger cubs with the ultimate aim to release them in the wild has been implemented by the state with the concurrence of NTCA but the methodology and protocols for implementation of this entirely new concept are still evolving," former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) P K Shukla said in a letter to NTCA.
The state government has been raising this issue with NTCA for over three years but it yet to receive any help. "We had written a letter in 2009 to NTCA to kindly guide us in this matter," Shukhla wrote in the letter.
"I would, therefore, request you again to kindly issue detailed guidelines or protocol outlining procedures to be adopted by field units in case they are confronted with a situation involving management of orphaned tiger cubs," he said in the letter written last month.
Absence of guidelines is leading to problems in proper rearing of the orphaned cubs in the state's tiger reserves.
"There has been a callous attitude from the authorities in Madhya Pradesh and at the Centre. The two administrations have failed to finalise guidelines for the rearing of orphaned tiger cubs," said Ajay Dubey, a Madhya Pradesh-based wildlife activist.
At present, Madhya Pradesh has five orphaned tiger cubs -- three in Kanha and two in Bandhavgarh reserves. An orphaned tiger cub had died on May 18 in Bandhavgarh.
Tiger cubs are kept in enclosures and refrained from going to their natural habitat in the jungles fearing attack by grown up cats.
"Orphaned tiger cubs can be attacked if they are sent in open jungle. Hence they are kept in captive enclosures. There has to be proper guidelines so that these cubs are taken care of," Dubey demanded.
Six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh -- Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay Dubri and Pench – have about 257 big cats. Tiger population in the country was estimated to be 1,706 as per 2010 data.