Bali welcomes new tiger cubs, elephant calf

by Nur Aminah on 2013-06-03

Welcome to the world: Two Bengal tiger cubs born under the breeding and conservation program at the Bali Safari and Marine Park in Gianyar. The new additions add to the number of this endangered species; with no more than 2,500 worldwide. Courtesy Bali Safari and Marine ParkWelcome to the world: Two Bengal tiger cubs born under the breeding and conservation program at the Bali Safari and Marine Park in Gianyar. The new additions add to the number of this endangered species; with no more than 2,500 worldwide. Courtesy Bali Safari and Marine Park

Bali Safari and Marine Park deserves kudos for its efforts to conserve and protect endangered animals with the successful births of two Bengal tigers and a Sumatran Elephant in its establishment seven weeks ago.

Tori and her male tiger partner Thomas produced two offspring, which the park’s management has yet to name, bringing the park’s tiger population to 10 animals.

At the same time, Mayang, the elephant, gave birth to a healthy baby, also as yet unnamed. The park’s elephant population is now 30, including the newborn.

Caring mother: Mayang’s newly born calf leans against her Sumatran elephant mother at Bali Safari and Marine Park. Courtesy Bali Safari and Marine ParkCaring mother: Mayang’s newly born calf leans against her Sumatran elephant mother at Bali Safari and Marine Park. Courtesy Bali Safari and Marine Park

Tim Husband, the park’s curator, explained that before the breeding season, the park’s staff and experts had conducted comprehensive research to ensure that the tiger couple had no family link and had high quality genes.

Husband said the research was important to avoid inbreeding, which could cause serious genetic problems in the future.

Worldwide, the Bengal tiger population has decreased over the last century. Its population has been estimated at approximately 1,706 to 1,909 in India; 440 in Bangladesh; 124 to 229 in Nepal and 67 to 81 in Bhutan.

Since 2010, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified the Bengal tiger as an endangered species due its total population being estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals. A decreasing trend in the loss of habitat and large-scale poaching threaten the species’ survival.

With the support of Hollywood megastar Leonardo DiCaprio, the World Wide Fund (WWF) launched a global campaign called Save Tigers Now, with the ambitious goal of building political, financial and public support to double the wild tiger population by 2022.

Meanwhile, the birth of a Sumatran elephant brought more hope. The Sumatran elephant, native to Sumatra and a subspecies of the Asian elephant, has also been classified as critically endangered by IUCN since 2011.

According to a IUCN study, the population of Sumatran elephants declined by at least 80 percent over the last three generations.

Conversion of forests into human settlements and agricultural sites, including vast oil palm plantations, has forced the Sumatran elephant population into serious conflict with humans.

As a result, many wild elephants have been removed from the wild or killed. In addition to conflict-related killings, elephants are also killed for their ivory tusks.

Between 1985 and 2007, 50 percent of Sumatran elephants died, and between 1980 and 2005—just one elephant generation, 69 percent of potential Sumatran elephant habitat was lost. It is estimated that the population of Sumatran elephants today is only 2,000 animals.

Hans Manansang, general manager of the park, expressed his happiness at the birth of the baby animals, especially the elephant.

“Three months ago, I heard a heart-breaking report saying that Mayang, the elephant mother, was not healthy. And her ultrasound test, conducted by foreign experts, showed that her fetus might not be in a good condition,” Manansang recalled.

He was delighted that the three babies were born in good shape.

In the first weeks of June, the three babies will go public and visitors may see them cuddling their mothers.

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