BHUBANESWAR: If the revised proposal of Odisha Government for boundary rationalisation of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary goes through, Satkosia Tiger Reserve will get an area in excess of 1,100 sq km.
Currently, the tiger reserve (TR) comprises Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary and Baisipalli Sanctuary, and taken together, it is spread over 963.87 sq km as per the 2007 notification.
However, following direction of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), Wildlife Wing of the Forest and Environment Department has now prepared a revised boundary of the gorge sanctuary basing on the recommendation of district Collectors.
Sources in Wildlife Wing said rationalisation of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary proposal includes deduction of approximately 186 sq km from its existing area of 795.88 sq km. To compensate for the loss, the Government has proposed addition of another 360 sq km to the sanctuary area.
Once ratified by the NBWL, the rationalisation will expand the area of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary to 969 sq km and in turn, the TR will be boosted by another 174 sq km.
Average area of a TR should be over 1,000 sq km to make it sustainable for tiger population which is just not dependent on the habitat. A tiger landscape with connectivity between different habitats is a must to keep their population vibrant.
Apart from Palamau, all other individual tiger landscapes in Central India and Eastern Ghats are in excess of 800 sq km in area. Satkosia was the smallest with about 744 sq km tiger area. It is now an established fact that population of tigers grew and remained sustainable in TRs which allowed contiguity to the predators for establishment of individual territories and their reproduction. Similipal has a tiger landscape in excess of 1,570 sq km.
Last year, the State Government proposed a reduction of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary by 186 sq km which was ratified by the State Board for Wildlife. However, when it was placed before the NBWL for assent, the national board refused the cut in the sanctuary area and asked the State Government to add double the area in compensation.
Wildlife Wing went in for more areas for inclusion to the sanctuary. The 360 sq km have been drawn from Athagarh, Athamallik, Angul, Dhenkanal divisions apart from Boudh. "We have prepared rationalisation of boundary in a manner which will make Satkosia a landscape in itself," said official sources.
Interestingly, tiger footfalls are recorded more in the peripheral zones of Satkosia which includes the proposed regions. The last tiger enumeration had put the number of the large cats in the reserve at about four.