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WATCH: Two white Bengal tigers thrive in their new home (VIDEO)

Sahara and Asmir were held in a Boksburg backyard for more than two years before being rescued by the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) and the Boksburg SPCA on February 20.

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

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

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Speak with The citizen NSPCA public relations and legal liaison Jacques Peacock said the two exotic big cats in Boksburg were not being fed a proper diet. This improper diet caused them to be overweight and lazy.

“The tigers were overfed with chickens and various types of meat. This posed health risks for the tigers because they did not have enrichment or much exercise, which led to the tigers becoming overweight, Peacock said.

In addition, Peacock added that according to a veterinarian, the tigers’ health was of concern, almost reducing their life expectancy to about five years.

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Sahara and Asmir are not yet three years old. They were reportedly injected as cubs but never received vaccinations or deworming.

Recovery of rescued tigers

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

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

Unlike the ‘concrete’ jungle that Sahara and Amir were ‘trapped’ in, they will be moved to a space that better suits their natural terrain.

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

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

White Bengal tigers

Although there is no exact number of white Bengal tigers in South Africa, the country has other white Bengal tigers besides Sahara and Asmir.

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

South Africa is not their native habitat, and any white Bengal tigers found there are likely to be in captivity, such as in zoos or nature reserves.

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

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