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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist

WATCH: Rescued white Bengal tigers thriving in their new home (VIDEO)

Two white Bengal tigers rescued from a Boksburg backyard in Gauteng have found a safe home and are recovering.

Two tigers, Sahara and Asmir, were kept in a Boksburg backyard for over two years before being rescued by the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) and the Boksburg SPCA on 20 February.

The two white Bengal tigers are now happily adjusting to their new home under the care of Isindile Big Cat & Predator sanctuary staff.

While it is not illegal to keep exotic animals in South Africa, animal welfare concerns are not taken lightly. These concerns prompt animal activists and enthusiasts to enforce the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962.

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Speaking to The Citizen NSPCA public relations and legal liaison Jacques Peacock said the two exotic big cats were not under a proper diet in Boksburg. This improper diet caused them to be overweight and lazy.

“The tigers were overfed with chickens and different meats. This created a health concern for the tigers as they did not have enrichment or much movement, which resulted in the tigers becoming overweight, said Peacock.

Furthermore, Peacock added that according to a veterinarian the tigers’ health was concerning, which almost reduced their life expectancy to approximately five years.

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Sahara and Asmir are just under three years. They were allegedly injected as cubs but were never provided any vaccinations or deworming.

Rescued tigers’ recovery

However, on the bright side Peacock says the tigers are recovering and are on a “special” diet now, which aims to reduce their weight gradually. Their diet consists of “weighed meat, and special supplements put on the meat”.

“The tigers are losing weight at a healthy momentum and with this, the veterinarian explained that their quality of life is improving,” Peacock added.

In contrast to the “concrete” jungle Sahara and Amir were “trapped” in, they will be moved to a space more fitting for their natural terrain.

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According to the NSPCA the male and female tigers will remain at Isindile. However, “they are being moved to a larger enclosure that is suitable for their habitat with dense bush and trees with water flowing through the enclosure”.

WATCH: Sahara and Asmir in their new home at Isindile.

White bengal tigers

Although there is no precise number of white Bengal tigers in SA, aside from Sahara and Asmir the country has other white Bengal tigers.

Moreover, white Bengal tigers are quite rare, as they are not a separate subspecies but rather a colour variation of the Bengal tiger, which is indigenous to India.

South Africa is not their native habitat, and any white Bengal tigers found there would likely be in captivity, such as in zoos or wildlife sanctuaries.

“The Bengal tiger is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and is classified as endangered in the wild,” said Peacock.

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