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Celebrating Cubs' birthday: Nandankanan's new way of creating awareness

"We all know that the cat population is going low due to several reasons. So such innovative way of celebrating birthday of the cubs will surely help creating awareness among school children, parents and visitors who participated in the birthday."

HNF Correspondent : August 3, 2008

White Tiger in Nandankanan

Nandakanan wildlife Zoo of Bhubaneswar, Orissa was in a different mood on 2nd of August 2008. It had invited hundreds of school children, dignitaries along with the media to participate in the birthday celebration of 3 white tiger cubs – Rishi, Sitesh and Prachi. The cubs entered 4th year on the day.

There were arrangements of special birthday cakes to be cut by children visitors. The school children recited birth day rhyme wishing the cubs to be safe and healthy. All visitors who attended the festival were quite excited to be involved in such a novel birthday party. The total zoo staffs were truly in a jolly mood to celebrate the birthday of cubs to bring awareness on tiger conservation in a different way.

To share the mood and colours of celebration with the tiger cubs they were offered dressed chicken simultaneously with cutting of the cake. The celebration was truly different as Nandankanan is the unique zoo in India for having wild species in a truly wild ambience.

The birthday celebration in the zoo has a special relevance as the recent survey on Tiger population all over India conducted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun revealed that the tiger population across the country has gone down to a marginal point. Particularly in Orissa, the number has dropped by 58%. Of the 192 tigers inhabiting the forests of Orissa in 2004, only about 80 tigers survive now, said the report.

 ‘Like in a family we celebrate birthdays of every member, Nandankanan takes its wild inmates as members of the family. Secondly, why white tiger because it is the icon of the zoo as we first started breeding the species in a zoo ambience. We all know that the cat population is going low due to several reasons. So such innovative way of celebrating birthday of the cubs will surely help creating awareness among school children, parents and visitors who participated in the birthday’, said Director of Nandankanan Zoo Ajit Kumar Pattnaik.

The latest Tiger Census Report brought the sensational fact of cat population gone down drastically during past 5 years to public. As per revelations made in the report, cat population in India has fallen to 1,411, down from 3,642 in the last major survey in 2002. Wildlife activists see poaching, large-scale deforestation for industrialization and uncontrolled urbanization and government agencies’ callous attitude towards wildlife conservation as the main factors for the decline in cat population.

The only exception was the southern state of Tamil Nadu where the animals' numbers had gone up to 76 from 60 five years ago. Counting could not be carried out in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand due to law and order problems, the report said. And the exercise was still going on in Sundarbans in the eastern state of West Bengal, the report added.

Tigers are poached for their body parts - skins are prized for fashion and tiger bones are used for oriental medicines. Tiger pelts can fetch up to $12,500 in China that allures Asian Poachers to get into tiger poaching and exporting. And cat habitats of India are facing the wrath of this allurement. The country is home to 40% of the world's tigers, with 23 tiger reserves in 17 states.

Blaming the government for failing to crack down on poachers and the illegal trade in tiger skins Wildlife experts say, urgent efforts should be made to save these animals. In this context, the effort by Nandankanan authorities to celebrate birthday of cubs is definitely praiseworthy and is also an invitation to people in general to involve themselves in the nationwide campaigns for conservation of big cats.

 

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