In the midst of public outcry with regard to reservation matters to the impending municipal polls in Nagaland and the space occupied by it in the media, the report of the arrival of two Royal Bengal Tigers all the way from Kerala’s Thiruvananthanpuram to the Rangapahar Zoological Park on Tuesday was a refreshing piece of news. In Nagaland, tigers are more or less relegated to the realm of folktales with the explosion of urbanisation and deforestation activities resulting in loss of tiger habitat, leave alone the royal kind. That was until almost a year ago when the state threw up a surprise to its own population and to wildlife conservationists across the country as a drifting fully grown Royal Bengal Tigress was tragically shot dead in Medziphema area by villagers, reportedly in self defence.
As per the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the state had no record of the presence of the royal feline, and the state forest and wildlife officials believed that the tigress could have strayed into Nagaland from neighbouring Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. The entire episode had thrown Nagaland in bad light and the people of the state had to endure criticism from all fronts, particularly from wildlife conservationists who are involved with tigers.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, with slightly above 2000 population in a decreasing trend and threatened by illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and conflict with humans, the Bengal tiger’s current status is listed under endangered.
Coming back to the two new royal additions to the Nagaland Zoological Park, Rangapahar, it is said that it has taken the state’s wildlife authorities over two years of persistent efforts to bring them (the Bengal tigers) to Nagaland. The two Bengal felines, Manikantan (male) and Karthika (female), are reported to be under close observation presently and will be kept under quarantine for at least two weeks for them to acclimatise to their new home, and for visitors to be allowed to see them.
If the royal cats adjust well to Nagaland’s weather conditions and are tended well, the state may well redeem itself from its past drawback.
Also, here’s a thought to the people- tigers are considered a vital link in maintaining the rich diversity of nature. When tigers are protected, forests are saved, and these ecosystems provide fresh water, food and health.