For wildlife enthusiasts, especially tiger lovers, all over India and the world it was a sad day as the country’s oldest Royal Bengal tiger in captivity, Raja, passed away.
RIP #RAJA the tiger pic.twitter.com/S9cKgRQwdP
— Abir Ghoshal (@abirghoshal) July 11, 2022
Raja was 25 years and 10 months old and died at the South Khairbari Leopard Rescue Centre located in Alipurduar district on Monday. He had been a resident of the Centre for the past 14 years and was the last one to be admitted there and incidentally also the last one to die. Centre sources said it was a “natural death”.
Talking to Telegraph about Raja, Deepak M, the Jaldapara Wildlife Divisional Forest Officer said: “Last year, we celebrated Raja’s 25th birthday. He was one of the longest surviving royal Bengal tigers of the country in captivity. We paid him homage and carried out his last rites. Raja was the last tiger at the centre in Khairbari.” The District Magistrate of Alipurduar, Surendra Kumar Meena also paid homage to the feline.
The average lifespan of the Royal Bengal tigers in the wild is between 10 to 15 years while in captivity it is 20 years.
Raja hailed from the Sundarbans region and was bit by a crocodile in the Malta river in 2008. He was rescued but since his left hind leg was in a bad shape, he was moved to Dankuni in Hooghly.
To save his life his leg had to be amputated and it was decided that he couldn’t be released in the wild and moved to Khairbari.
The rescue centre was established in 2003 by the State Government following the ban on the use of tigers in circuses. It housed 19 tigers with Raja joining them later.
Now the Centre has no more tigers left.