WATCH: dramatic rescue of two orphaned Bengal tigers in India

Last November, villagers from Anini, a small and remote town in Northeast India, spotted four tiger cubs moving around their locality. These sightings were particularly unusual in that the cubs were seen without the presence of an adult tiger, in other words, without their mother.

Soon, villagers started reporting dead or missing poultry and pigs; clearly the orphaned tiger cubs were hungry and desperate.

The people of Anini and neighboring villages respect the tiger as a part of their natural heritage but were understandably anxious about losing livestock and fearful of any harm on human life.

The Forest Department quickly established contact with International Fund for Animal Welfare - Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) staff operating in Arunachal Pradesh and a team consisting of veterinarians and biologists arrived on scene.

After interviewing villagers, the team learned that the tiger cubs had been driven out of the area by dogs and people.

In early December, they found the cubs hiding in a dry culvert in a dense bamboo thicket which was being used as their den.

At the time, one of the cubs was reported injured and seen limping away.

To better understand the area being used by the cubs, the team visited and surveyed the site for three consecutive days gathering evidence.

Towards the end of the survey the team heard that three cubs had fallen in a dry water tank and needed immediate rescue.

Check out this video including the dramatic moment when the two surviving tiger cubs are rescued from the water tank they were using as their den.

It took the team an entire night to locate and successfully sedate the cubs.

Out of the three cubs stranded in the well, one succumbed to starvation and pneumonia and was found dead, the other two were rescued and safely transported to Roing for temporary rehabilitation.

The two surviving cubs (one male, one female) looked emaciated and stressed and seemed to be around 10-11 months old.

For the last few months, the tiger cubs have been putting on weight and are now medically stable.

Given the presence of Bengal as well as Indo-Chinese tigers in this remote corner of Northeast India, DNA tests were performed to confirm the species. 

The next stage in their lives involves an ambitious plan to build an enclosure and field station in a remote area and rehabilitate them for release back to the wild.

Stay tuned for more on this dramatic tiger rescue.


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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy