ANGUL: Panic has gripped inhabitants of villages near Raigoda after the release of the tiger, which was brought to Satkosia from Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.Villagers of Nuakheta, Badapanchakul, Labangi, Balanga, Talagarh and Rugudiapada, located in the vicinity of Raigoda, are spending sleepless nights after the three-year-old male big cat was released into the forests of Satkosia Tiger Reserve on Friday. The tiger was in an enclosure at Raigoda since June 21.
Of the villages, Nuakheta is situated only six km from the enclosure and is in close proximity to the forests. The village has a population of about 1500 with 300 families residing in it.
The villagers claimed that they are able to hear the roars of the released tiger. “We are living in constant fear. The Forest department should regularly inform us about the whereabouts of the tiger, erect wire fencing around the village or relocate us,” they said.
The villagers further said their movement has been restricted after the tiger’s release. People are now moving in groups and remaining alert in the night. The livelihood of villagers has also been hit after the Forest department warned against venturing into the forest which is a source of subsistence for the locals, they said.Blaming the Forest department for restricting the movement of villagers in farm fields and nearby forest, president of Van Surakhya Samiti Amarendra Nayak said the State Government should relocate villagers to another place.
Echoing similar sentiments, another villager said the Government should have thought about the safety of locals before releasing the tiger. But, it has attached more importance to the tiger instead of its own people, he said.However, animal experts dispelled the fears of locals and opined that normally, tigers do not attack human beings and hardly venture into villages. Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Angul circle) Sudarshan Panda said the fear of villagers is misplaced. “A 24-hour monitoring of the tiger’s movement has been put in place. The locals will be cautioned if the tiger moves towards any village,” he added.