BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government’s ambitious programme for tiger re-introduction in Satkosia Tiger Reserve has received a major boost with the first big cat expected in the second half of April.
A high-level team of State’s Wildlife Wing, comprising Chief Wildlife Warden Sandeep Tripathi and Field Director of Satkosia Sudarshan Panda, visited Bhopal last week to finalise the modalities of tiger translocation with the top brass of Forest Department of Madhya Pradesh which had given its consent for sharing six tigers with Odisha.
In the first phase, the Wildlife Wing has decided to get a male tiger either from Kanha or Bandhavgarh TRs. “We had a very successful meeting with Chief Wildlife Warden of MP Jitendra Agrawal. The MP Government was generous in offering big cats from three of its tiger habitats - Kanha, Panna and Bandhavgarh. That apart, it has also assured all support in translocation,” Tripathi told this paper on Sunday.
As per the discussion, it was decided that Odisha would take three pairs of tigers in different phases. The first tiger would be brought in around second or third week of April, if all plans fall into place. The tigers would be four years of age or below so that a breeding population can be built up successfully in Satkosia.
MP Forest Department has also agreed to provide a tranquilisation team to capture the cat. Later, it would provide a specially-designed truck to translocate the tiger from MP to Odisha.
Although air-lifting of the tiger was being considered, transportation on road was favoured given the complexities involved in capturing a tiger and flexibility it offers for translocation.After tranquilisation, the tiger would be radio-collared. The Wildlife Wildlife Institute (WII) which has been roped in by the Odisha Government for technical support had also sent in a team to the discussion. An AIG of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was present during the exercise which involved visits to the three tiger reserves.
“It is a matter of huge responsibility for us because this is for the first time that an inter-state translocation of tigers would be carried out for such a purpose. We are also preparing for a successful soft release at Satkosia,” the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State said.
The two earlier instances of tiger re-introduction were recorded in Rajasthan and MP. In Rajasthan, the movement of tiger was from Ranthambore to Sariska whereas in MP, it was from Bandhavgarh to Panna.
For the soft release, the Wildlife Wing is building its enclosure where the big cat would be monitored for first few weeks. After receiving the feedbacks through radio collar tracking, next phase of translocation would be taken up. For training and monitoring too, MP has offered support to Odisha. Currently, Satkosia has two tigers but both are old and beyond breeding age. However, strong protection measures have ensured that prey population has increased substantially.
In December last, the Satkosia TR authorities had successfully relocated 78 families from Raigoda village located in the core of the tiger habitat. The Government has also redrawn the boundary of the tiger reserve and added more area to the habitat.