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Reason(s) for failure of establishing captive zoo population of Bengal tigers?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Nikola Chavkosk, 20 Feb 2016.

  1. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    I am wondering why, anybody experienced to share his experience-knowledge,

    Why it was not established sustainable captive zoo population of Bengal tigers outside India? Three tiger subspecies are well represented in zoos, including Amur, Sumatran and yes Malayan (in zoos in USA and Europe too, beside others zoo like in Malaysia), and small number of Indochinese tigers, but what was the reason for failure of establishin sustainable captive populaiton of Bengal tigers? Hybridisation? Not easily acommodation of Bengal tigers?! Not enough historical founders? Anybody to know more on this topic?

    And what is current situation with Indochinese and Malayan subspecies in zoos? Any zoo left with pure Bengal tiger outside India?

    I checked the list of Zootierliste, and there were at least 90 former holders of Bengal tigers in Europe, and now none!
     
  2. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    The sole reason the Bengal population outside of India faltered is because there was a vast amount of interbreeding with other subspecies, generally to produce more "impressive" looking animals, to counteract the effects of inbreeding required to sustain white tigers, and in many cases just because collections didn't pay attention to the provenance of animals.

    The two main reasons there will continue to be no Bengal outside of collections in India is that it is rather difficult to get exports of native stock approved by the Indian government, and the taxon is doing very well in Indian collections so there is no conservation need to have an ex-situ population. As such collections outside India focus on other subspecies.

    It is also worth noting that it is probable many of the former holders of Bengal tigers in Europe actually held hybrid stock in latter years; the last holding on ZTL dates to a few years ago, but the last definite pure Bengal in Europe which I know of died in the 1980's.
     
  3. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

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    Slightly off-topic of Bengal Tigers but it's important to point out that there are no captive Indochinese Tigers outside of Asia. Any animals listed as Indochinese within North America and Europe will actually be misidentified Malayan Tigers.

    ~Thylo:cool:
     
  4. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Reason(s) for failure......

    There are probably no wild populations outside Asia either. Sorry, couldn't resist that.
     
  5. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    If you think on Indochinese subspecies, I also think that the population in wild is almost gone, and all remaining Indochinese tigers are kept mainly in zoos in Thailand. What sad destiny of Indochinese tiger, Hopefully the Thailand zoos who hold them can make coordinated breeding program for recovery of the subspecies.

    {edited} Actually as I currently saw, on Wikipedia is stated that after 2015 estimation of wild population, there were 600-650 remaining individuals in wild of SOUTH-EAST Asia, mainly in Thailand (250 individuals) and Myanmar (85) and 20 in Vietnam.
     
  6. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Also find that of the total 5 tiger subspecies (excluding South China Tiger), only the Indochinese tiger is not part of breeding program in zoos (Bengal only in Indian zoos).

    Can something be done to import some 20 Indochinese tigers from Thailand zoos, from Myanmar (I know that there you can legally buy-and export Asian elephants), to European, American or Australasian zoos? I am wondering.
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Its interesting to reflect on just how many of the 'Indian' tigers one used to see in zoos in the past were actually pure and not the product of hybridisation, in the days before studbooks, DNA testing etc.

    The last definite 'normal' orange Indian tiger I can recollect seeing that was of known provenance was the female imported from India in the 1960's by Bristol Zoo along with their pair of White Tigers to whom she was related. Sadly she didn't breed before her death, thus losing the normal colour gene in that stock, which persisted until the 1980's, as we have discussed before.
     
  8. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    It is highly unusual that American zoos maintain three distinct subspecies of such a large animal. In most cases they would pick one subspecies (as they did with Amur leopards). The main reason tigers are so well represented is because they are extremely popular - polls repeatedly list them as the most popular animal in the world. However, since American zoos are already overextended trying to house three tiger subspecies, there is no way they will add a fourth.

    I am speaking of AZA accredited zoos. The private sector could potentially house them and in fact many private or non accredited zoos are convinced they do have Indian tigers.
     
  9. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    There is Central zoo authority in India for zoos. I think they care a lot for their animals, and particularly for iconic Indian animals, like Bengal tigers or Indian rhinos. They have studbooks for many zoo animals, including Bengal tigers, and holds more than 240 Bengal captive tigers.
     
  10. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I don't know for sure but rather doubt there are any(?) Siberian or S.E. Asian tigers in Indian zoos, as that would rather be like 'carrying coals to Newcastle' (an English expression for unnecessary). So tigers in Indian zoos are presumably pretty safe from any danger of hybridisation, either in the past or now. But there are a lot of white tigers in Indian zoos, though unlike elsewhere these are pure Indian also, but they must make up a sizeable percentage of that total captive population.
     
  11. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Look here Pertinax; It is interesting that studbook is on both English and German language. It's from 2012, and says that probably there are 255 Bengal tiger living in Indian zoos.

    http://cza.nic.in/International Studbook of Bengal Tiger.pdf


    And here are studbooks they have, they have for animals like Asiatic lions, Indian rhinos, Clouded leopards, snow leopards, monkeys (lion tailed macaque, nilgiri langur), hoolock gibbon, Indian wild ass, gaur, red panda, wild dog, Tibetian wolf. Quite interesting.

    http://cza.nic.in/studbooks.html
     
  12. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

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    From what I've heard a reintroduction years back resulted in Amur Tiger genes making their way into the wild tiger population in India so I wouldn't say that the captive population is safe from hybridization.

    ~Thylo:cool:
     
  13. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Yes I have heard that too, and I believe that many zoochaters know that. It is most probable that the ''strange genes'' will banish from the population genetics, with time, if (as) new Amur tiger genes will not be added, by succesive breeding and thining of the strange genes.
     
  14. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Well-said, even if Bengal tigers suddenly became an option I can't imagine a lot of AZA facilities would go for it by now. You'd be hard-pressed to name a major zoo that doesn't have tigers, there isn't much room for another subspecies.
     
  15. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting document, thanks for link.

    As I thought, a very large number of 'Whites' feature in this population, particularly during the 1970-90 era. But the last White tigers shown here were born in 2004/6 and there appear to have been none since, at least to 2011. Maybe that is a recent policy within Indian zoos?

    It also shows the last pure Indian tiger in the UK- Akbar2 at Bristol, a white male, descended from their line of breeding White tigers, died in 1986.

    The last one in the US, one of more recently imported pair of Whites from India, died in Cincinnatti in 1998 and the other in 1997.
     
    Last edited: 19 Apr 2016
  16. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Good point, though I believe it only relates to the Dudhwa National Park area where that single zoo-bred female was reintroduced. I don't know if the tigers living there are linked to other populations though.
     
  17. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I should like to underline that the level of cooperation with Indian zoos is not at a level conducive to re-establishment of an ex situ conservation breeding program for Bengal tiger outside India.

    One only has to look at the difficulties encountered with acquiring additional Asiatic lions from the Indian gene pool to diversify the EEP gene pool!
     
  18. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Presumably the number of Tigers held in Indian Zoos far outweighs the number of Lions, but yes, getting any exported would seem to hold very similar/the same difficulties. Its possible they've put an embargo on any export of Tigers, as unlike with the Lions, there is no good reason to allow any to leave e.g. to add new blood to an outside captive population.
     
  19. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    There is no need for ex situ conservation of Bengal tigers outside India, because captive population there is doing well - and India is huge country, with well dispersed zoos, and other zoos, should focus on conserving the already kept tiger subspecies, and particularly, huge efforts must be taken for Malayan tigers, and for additional imports from Malaysia. And maybe establishing self-sustainable Indochinese tiger captive population (either in Southeast Asia or elswhere, since this subspecies is not managed in regional zoo cooperation.)

    Even some Sumatran tigers should be added, from Indonesia (eg. from their zoos, or sanctuaries), to populations in Europe, USA, Australasia, Japan (and Australia I think can do that the best), for increasing of genetic diversity.