One of the continuous statements being made by the DNP in defense of their taking the tigers from Tiger Temple is that they will be releasing the tigers back into the wild, their natural habitat. To many people this sounds like a great plan, however most people do not understand the complexities of this proposal. I will break it down.
At this time there has been NO successful release of a captive bred tiger into the wild. A couple of releases have come close to success but still ended in failure. For example, an attempt was made in India, the tigress was raised with a human in the jungle and taught how to hunt. On being released she became a man-eater and was eventually shot.
People believe that tigers have the instinct to hunt no matter what, and this appears true, however scientists theorize that a cub needs the mother to teach it to hunt, which is why they spend 2 years with the mother in the wild. Instinct alone is not enough to help a tiger to survive the wild.
There have also been plans to leave a captive bred mother raise the cubs herself, however again, she too has not been taught how to hunt and therefore cannot pass this knowledge on to her cubs. Perhaps humans can teach the mother? As mentioned before, this was previously tried and the tiger ended up a man-eater. Human training of a tiger to hunt doesn’t work.
Now even if there is success in raising a tiger to survive in the wild the next question is where to release it. It cannot simply be thrown into the nearest area. There needs to be sufficient prey available for the tiger to live. There needs to be an open unoccupied territory for the tiger. No dominant males in the area if a male is to be released. The list goes on.
In theory the idea is good, in practice, not so much.
I leave you with this last question, all these years the DNP facility have housed multiple tigers that could be released, why is it that now when they come under scrutiny for taking the tigers from Tiger Temple do they suddenly have this release plan?
Here's an intersting article that highlights the problems: