BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government on Friday ruled out relocation of Bandhavgarh tigress Sundari from Satkosia Tiger Reserve stating that the authority to take a call in this regard lies only with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
"As we are not authorised to take a decision on relocation of the tigress. We have briefed the WII about the situation prevailing at Satkosia at present. We have requested them to find out whether the safety of the tigress is in question and take steps accordingly," said Forest and Environment (F&E) minister Bijayshree Routray while rejecting reports published in a section of media that the tigress will be sent back to her earlier habitat Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
Stating that the exact reason of death of the woman, allegedly mauled by the tigress, is yet to be ascertained, Routray said the autopsy report of the victim is awaited to check veracity of the claim. He termed the violence by locals seeking relocation of the tigress from Satkosia Tiger Reserve as 'unfortunate.'
On Wednesday, hundreds of locals torched forest offices and boats in Tikarpada range of Satkosia TR after the tigress allegedly mauled a woman leading to her death.
Forest and Environment Secretary Suresh Mohapatra said that tiger is a Schedule I species and its relocation is done as per the Wildlife Protection Act. “The NTCA and WII which are providing technical support to the State Government to run the project will take the call,” Mohapatra said while informing TNIE that an expert team from WII will reach Satkosia soon to study behaviour of the tigress.
Additional PCCF and Field Director of Satkosia Tiger Reserve Dr Sudarshan Panda echoed the same sentiments. “Under no circumstances can the tiger be relocated back to Bandhavgarh. Only after the technical committee of WII and post mortem report, a further course of action can be taken,” he said.
In fact, the Wildlife Protection Act mandates the sole authority of tranquilisation and capture of a tiger on Chief Wildlife Warden of the State. Basing on the reports of the technical panel, the chief of Wildlife Wing can take a decision.
Meanwhile, Forest department officials said the wild cat can not be declared “man eater” and shifted from the reserve because of an isolated incident. “So far, no violent activity of the tigress has been reported. However, the poachers, timber mafia as well as politicians with vested interest are instilling fear among locals and instigating them to stage protest seeking its relocation,” a senior official said.
He also said that doctors are being pressurised to give autopsy report in favour of the victim so that compensation can be claimed and the tigress be declared a threat. (EOM)