BHUBANESWAR: In a fresh bid to revive tiger population in the State, the Forest and Environment department has formed an advisory committee to guide the government in the field of big cat conservation.
The move assumes significance as Odisha government looks to move on after the failure of the tiger translocation project in Satkosia and no major change in the State’s big cat population since 2014.
Official sources said the committee will also devise action plan for rewilding of the big cats in major tiger landscapes of the State.
The Forest department notified formation of the committee recently. A senior forest officer, who is also a member of the panel, said, “The first meeting of the committee will be convened soon to discuss roles and functions and work out a roadmap to proceed further.” As per the notification of the department, the nine-member advisory committee is being headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW).
Besides the PCCF, it has eight other expert members. They are former member secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Anup Nayak, ex-field director of Kanha Tiger Reserve Khageswar Naik, one representative each from NTCA, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Central Zoo Authority, field directors of Satkosia and Similipal tiger reserves and director of Nandankanan Biological Park.
The committee will advise the State government in implementing tiger conservation programmes to re-establish tiger source populations in Satkosia and Debrigarh, a favourable habitat, besides working on enriching the big cat population and gene pool in Similipal. The panel has been assigned the task to prepare a comprehensive and time-bound action plan and execute population recovery of tigers in the State.
“In Similipal, we will improve protection measures and work on enriching the prey base in its northern side where the tiger population is negligible,” said a forest officer. The notification doesn’t speak about conservation in the forests of Sunabeda which has been struggling for years to get tiger reserve status without an official notification. Officials though said it is on the radar of the big cat conservation programme.
Odisha’s tiger population, which was reportedly over 100 in early 2000 declined to 32 in 2010 and 28 in 2014. The figure remained the same in 2018. However, forest officials are expecting an increase in the number during the ongoing quadrennial estimation of tiger population this year.