Wildlife & Biodiversity

Tiger relocation project fails: Tigress in Odisha’s Satkosia reserve alone

Satkosia Tiger Reserve had 14 tigers in 2006; it has just one now, which has raised concerns over declining population of tigers 

 
By Ashis Senapati
Published: Friday 09 April 2021
Tigress Sundari inside the enclosure in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha’s Angul district. Photo: Ashis Senapati
Tigress Sundari inside the enclosure in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha’s Angul district. Photo: Ashis Senapati Tigress Sundari inside the enclosure in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha’s Angul district. Photo: Ashis Senapati

The lone tigress at the Satkosia Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha’s Angul district, Sundari, may not get a companion following the closure of the tiger relocation project by the Satkosia National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) recently.

The 14-year-old tigress has been alone in Satkosia, which was notified as a tiger reserve in 2007. In 2006, STR had 14 tigers; the 14-year-old is the only one left as of April 2021.

When Mahavir, a tiger, was translocated from Kanha Tiger Reserve as part of the re-introduction plan in June 2018, the forest department was hopeful the tigers may mate. But Mahavir — the first tiger to be relocated from a reserve in Madhya Pradesh — was found dead in STR on November 14, 2018.

A probe by NTCA revealed that it died due to poaching.

The Madhya Pradesh government in 2018 decided to relocate three pairs of tigers to STR as part of the state government’s plan to revive the big cat population in the protected forest. But the country’s first experiment of interstate translocation of tiger in failed after tigress Sundari, who was brought from the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in June 2018 to STR was sent back on March 23, 2021.

The lone tigress can also travel to the nearby forest in Dhenkanal district, or a tiger from nearby forest may come to Satkosia, said LAK Singh, former wildlife official, Similipal Tiger Reserve.

CCTV footage revealed that the lone tigress was found moving around the enclosure of Sundari. “We have no plan to arrange any tiger for the tigress of Satkosia. We have already decided to shift six villages from buffer areas of the tiger reserve. Alternative land will be provided to villagers,” said Pradeep Raj Karat, field director, Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

The total tiger population in the country showed a 30 per cent rise to 2,226 in 2014 from 1,706 in 2011; the number of tigers in Odisha declined from 32 to 28 in the same period, according to the 2018 census report.

“Non-availability of sufficient prey and the existence of villages in STR are the reasons behind failure of the country’s first interstate translocation tiger project,” said Jayakrushna Panigrahi, secretary, Odisha Environmental Society.

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