The tigress brought last year from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha in the first case of interstate transfer of such animals in the country will continue to remain in captivity raising questions on the entire project.
According to sources, in a meeting Monday between forest departments of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha as well as National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), it was decided that the tigress Sundari is to be put through “rewilding”. “The new plan is that the tigress will be kept in a 25 acre enclosure in Satkosia or Mahanadi Wildlife Division”, said a forest department officer from Odisha. “It will be rewilding of the animal”.
However, conservationists are dismissing the claims stating that the authorities are trying to spin facts that the tigress remains in captivity and that the entire project has been a failure from the start.
“If you put a tiger in a 25 acre enclosure, then it becomes a safari tiger. This is not rewilding”, said Biswajit Mohanty, former member of the National Board for Wildlife.
Six tigers were supposed to be introduced in Odisha’s Satkosia Tiger Reserve, which was seeing dwindling population of the big cat. Last year, a tiger from Kanha National Park and then a tigress from Bandhavgarh were brought to Odisha in the first phase. However, the project ran into trouble from the beginning and ended with one tiger dead and the other in captivity.
The tiger was suspected to be killed by poachers who had set up traps for boars. The tigress, which was accused of killing two locals in the Satkosia area, was kept in an enclosure after locals launched a violent agitation burning property of the forest department and beating up officials.
“The entire inter state transfer project was silly considering the considerable domestic cattle and human population in the Satkosia area. This exercise should not have taken place”, Mohanty said.