Bhubaneswar(PTI): Six tigers will be relocated to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha’s Angul district from Madhya Pradesh as part of the state government’s plan to revive big cat population in the protected forest.
The first tiger is scheduled to reach the state next month, said Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray.
“Initially, just one tiger will be relocated to the reserve from Madhya Pradesh on a pilot basis. The remaining five would be released in Satkosia over a period of time,” Routray said.
The 963 sq-km reserve, as of now, has just two tigers, both over the age of 13, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Sandeep Tripathy said.
The forest has favourable environment with adequate prey base but the two old tigers are not fit for breeding, he stated.
The divisional forest officer (DFO) of Satkosia, SMT Rehaman, however, stated there were contradictory reports over Satkosia’s tiger population.
“Earlier, tigers were counted based on pug marks, but now there are camera traps. It is difficult to ascertain the exact number in Satkosia,” he explained
According to NTCA estimation in 2010, there were eight (8) tigers in the reserve.
Asked about the reason behind the dwindling population in Satkosia, the DFO said, “The two existing tigers are females and old. That explains why the numbers have fallen.”
According to the 2016 tiger census, Odisha has 40 Royal Bengal Tigers – 13 males, 24 females and three calves.
If this relocation scheme is successful, the state government may undertake similar efforts in other forests, he said, adding all the six tigers will be relocated in a phased manner, Tripathy said.
“The government of Madhya Pradesh has identified just one male tiger of Khana Tiger Reserve for relocation. The others would be identified in due course of time,” he clarified.
Explaining the process of relocation, the principal chief conservator of forest said, “The tigers would be brought in cages and first released in an enclosure with proper fencing. Once they get accustomed to the new environment, they will be released in the wild.”
The entire exercise will take place under the supervision of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officials, he added.