White tiger safari to lose its uniqueness

Barang: The world’s greatest white tiger safari at Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) may soon lose its uniqueness with the government deciding to turn it into a common tiger safari.
Considering the dwindling number of white tigers at NZP, the forest and environment department has urged the zoo authorities to convert the white tiger safari into a natural enclosure for all categories of big cats, zoo sources said.
“The white tiger safari will be converted into a general tiger safari as per an order of the forest and environment department. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch all varieties of tigers including white ones. We will soon install a signage at the natural enclosure,” said a zoo official.
NZP had attracted world-wide attention when tigress Ganga delivered three white cubs in 1980 and two more in 1981. White tiger population had gone up in the zoo through captive breeding.
The state government had set up the white tiger safari on a 12-ha land in 1991 by spending `40 lakh. The then forest and environment minister Harishchandra Buxipatra had inaugurated the safari October 1, 1991. Artificial springs and caves were built at the safari. Visitors have the advantage of watching white tigers at the safari by travelling in a special vehicle.
The safari showcased eight white tigers initially and it has only two these days, thanks to a steady decline in their numbers. “With the removal of ‘exclusive class’ tag for safari, visitors will now watch at least 26 big cats in their natural enclosure over a period of time,” said the official.
Zoo director SK Acharya said steps have been taken to convert the white tiger safari into a natural habitat for all varieties of tigers.

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