ANGUL/BHUBANESWAR: Amid Forest Department’s strong stand on tigress Sundari and local protests, teams from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) as well as Crime Branch of Odisha Police reached Satkosia Tiger Reserve on Saturday.
Sources said preliminary examination of the wounds suffered by the woman allegedly killed by the tigress has puzzled the experts who doubt if the injuries have been inflicted by a tiger. The incision on the back of the victim appeared to be too deep and smooth which is unlikely in a tiger attack. Similarly, infection was found to have set in which is odd given the time of attack and discovery of the body.
However, the post-mortem report is yet to be available since the doctor who had conducted the autopsy has gone on leave. Clarity on the matter would emerge only after the experts submit their reports.
Meanwhile, teams of WCCB and Crime Branch’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) visited the spot where the woman was found dead near Hatibari village. A team of WII has headed towards Hatidhara forests under Athamallik Forest Division where Sundari is believed to have proceeded. Interestingly, contrary to reports that the tigress had killed three cattle at Bipradihi on Friday evening, it was found that only a calf was injured.
Earlier in the day, Chief Wildlife Warden Dr Sandeep Tripathi had a meeting with Collector Anil Samal, SP Mitrabhanu Mahapatra. Later, DR Ramesh of WII went to Hatibari. Another team WCCB left for Bipradiha village.Amidst all the headlines Sundari has grabbed, there are clear hints that the issue is being politicised. During 2005-2007 when Satkosia had more than a dozen tigers, there was no opposition even though the Satkosia Praja Surakhya Samiti existed then. There were reports of tigers killing domestic animals back then but no organised opposition like it witnessed earlier this week.
While poor outreach programme of Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary officials is blamed for public opposition, re-introduction of tigers has posed a big obstacle on free access of villagers to the forests now. The timber smugglers and poachers are the worst sufferers of the restriction imposed now and are instigating the locals.
Another factor could be Left Wing Extremists and their overground sympathisers trying to capitalise on the situation. While State Police and security forces continue to comb the area, Maoists were certainly not in favour of tigers. This was evident through posters at several parts of Satkosia opposing the tiger re-introduction project.
It is also often alleged that Satkosia Praja Surakhya Samiti is dominated by BJP leaders. They are allegedly whipping up the sentiments of people for political gains with an eye on 2019 polls. On July 18, when the Samiti mobilised demonstration before Angul Collectorate, all the top BJP leaders of the district were present.
The charge, however, is denied by secretary of the samiti Biraja Jani. He said the samiti has leaders of all political parties and he does not use this for political gains.