Caspian tigers, one of the largest cat species which roamed on earth became extinct in the 1960s. But now, scientists are planning to bring them back to life. And for that, they may rope in its cousin, the Siberian tiger for its revival.
According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, scientists are mulling options for restoring these tigers to Central Asia and are identifying a promising site in Kazakhstan that could support a population of nearly 100 tigers within 50 years.
Caspian or Turan tigers (panthera tigris virgata) lived in the areas of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and parts of Northwestern China. They weighed more than 300 pounds and were 10 feet long. In the 1960s, they got extinct due to hunting, habitat loss and food shortage.
According to the study, the plan is to reintroduce the tigers using a subspecies, the Siberian tiger, which is genetically similar to the Caspian tiger. Scientists are on a lookout for a favourable site somewhere near Balkhash lake in Kazakhstan that could support a population of nearly 100 tigers within 50 years. A healthy population of Wild boars, Bukhara deer, and roe deer will also have to be ensured because these animals form the main source of the tiger's prey.
"The idea of tiger reintroduction in Central Asia using the Amur tiger from the Russian Far East as an 'analog' species has been discussed for nearly 10 years. It met with considerable support from the government of Kazakhstan in 2010 during the Global Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia," Mikhail Paltsyn, an ESF (College of Environmental Science and Forestry) doctoral candidate said.
According to WWF, Siberian tiger’s habitat is now restricted to the Sikhote-Alin range in the Primorski and Khabarovsk provinces of the Russian Far East, small pockets in the border areas of China and possibly in North Korea. The report adds that there are roughly 540 Siberian tigers in the world presently.
A report by Business Insider says, Caspian tigers were generally smaller than Siberian tigers, but males could weigh up to 240kg, and adults grew to about 10ft long, which is larger than most big cats that are around in the present times.
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