SGNP welcomes Sultan; will the 5-year-old earn his stripes?
SGNP welcomes Sultan; will the 5-year-old earn his stripes?

Mumbai: The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Borivli, added to the 'regality' in its midst, welcoming a new Royal Bengal tiger, royal in bearing and name, Sultan. He has such an important role to play in the park, the public will not be able to see him. With his help, the park hopes to counter the dwindling number of tigers in captivity. Five-year-old Sultan arrived from the Gorewada Rescue Centre at Nagpur on Thursday.

Presently, the SGNP houses four female Royal Bengal tigresses, the nine-year-olds Bijli and Mastani, 10-year-old Laxmi and 18-year old Basanti. A 10-year-old male, Anand, too is part of the family.

Anand is the offspring of Basanti and a sibling of Laxmi, hence their coupling is not possible, park officials said. Further, Anand has been found incapable of mating with the other two tigresses, Bijli and Mastani, who were procured from the Pench Tiger Reserve two years ago. In April, a 12-year old tiger, Yash, died while undergoing treatment for cancer. He too was unsuccessful in breeding with the two tigresses.

Speaking to FPJ, Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinary officer of the SGNP, informed that the administration is hoping, Sultan will be able to go forth and multiply.

“We have brought in Sultan, as part of our breeding programme. There are three young tigresses but Anand has been unable to mate with them. So we were desperately looking for a male tiger for this purpose. We need to stop the decline in the number of tigers in the park,” said Dr Pethe.

SGNP is one of the most-visited national parks in the country, popular for lion, tiger safaris, in which visitors go by a minibus or covered vehicle to see captive tigers and lions released in a huge, fenced area.

Dr Pethe stressed, Sultan had only been brought for breeding purposes and he would not be on display for tourists. “Sultan will not be exhibited. Special care will be taken of him till he acclimatises,” he maintained.

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