Satkosia’s new tigress, Sundari, has precipitated a confrontation between locals and police as she reportedly continues to attack people and cattle in the area.
Police have deployed 13 platoons to manage protests by locals. The tigress, which a day earlier reportedly killed a man and attacked another, killed cattle Monday morning.
The tigress, relocated from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha, in a pilot inter-state transfer project overseen by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the National Tiger Conservation Authority, is also said to have attacked a journalist.
Raghunath Sahu, who was in the area to cover the second killing by Sundari, was admitted to a local hospital after she sprang on him. Witnesses said Sahu was filming the body being carried by the police and forest officers when the tiger attacked him.
“He was saved when a policeman in the group fired in the air,” said local activist Prafulla Sahoo. “The tigress got scared by the sound of firing and vanished into the forest.”
On Sunday, people in the villages within Satkosia Tiger Reserve became agitated after they reportedly discovered the body of 65-year-old Trinath Sahoo. Sahoo, from Tainsi village in Anugul district, had gone fishing by a forest stream when he was allegedly killed and eaten by Sundari.
In September, the tigress was accused of killing a woman, Kailasi Sai, living in the reserve area. The postmortem had concluded that the death was caused by a carnivore. Angry villagers had demanded the immediate removal of all tigers from the area.
Dr K Ramesh, a member of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), told The Indian Express that Satkosia remains viable as a tiger reserve even as tiger conservationists have voiced criticism. “It (killing of Trinath Sahoo) could be a chance encounter,” he said, adding the first one (Kailasi) is not a proven case”.
On Satkosia’s relocation project, tiger conservationist Dr Ullas Karanth had earlier told The Indian Express, “Dumping tigers, in areas with low prey, lots of humans and cattle, is an invitation for increasing conflicts… to the ultimate loss of public support for tiger conservation.”
“A core area devoid of humans is an essential ingredient for successful tiger conservation and reintroduction,” confirmed senior scientist with WII Dr Y V Jhala.
“Satkosia has more than 100 villages and about 50,000 cattle, which enhances the scope of man-tiger conflict,” former member of National Board of Wildlife Biswajit Mohanty warned, adding the decision-makers failed to first convince locals about the relocation project through discussions and incentives.