MADHYA PRADESH Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday wrote to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, asking him to ensure that Sundari – a tigress shifted as part of India’s first inter-state translocation project in 2018 – is kept in proper care and appropriate environment until the Ghorela centre in Kanha Tiger Reserve is ready to accommodate her.
In the letter, Chouhan informed Patnaik that currently, the Ghorela centre, where tigers are trained before being sent out in the wild, is occupied by an orphaned tiger cub and Sundari will be brought in once the cub is fit to be released.
The two states have been at loggerheads over the relocation of Sundari after she killed two villagers living in the peripheral of Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha a few months after being brought in from Madhya Pradesh.
Mahavir and Sundari was the first pair of tiger and tigress sent to Satkosia from MP’s Panna Tiger Reserve and Bandhavghar respectively as part the translocation project. Mahavir died a few months later allegedly due to poaching, while Sundari left out in the open attacked villagers. She was immediately put into an enclosure and, following strong opposition from the local community, Odisha asked Madhya Pradesh to take her back.
Both states then wrote to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), with Odisha urging that Sundari be sent back while Madhya Pradesh remaining reluctant.
In 2019, Madhya Pradesh finally agreed to take back Sundari following an NTCA order.
In his letter to Patnaik, Chouhan pointed out that a special team sent to observe Sundari for the relocation process found that the tigress on account of being kept in an enclosure for a longer period of time had “human imprinting”, which means she had grown dependent on human intervention for her existence. She had grown unfit to be released into the wild and will have to be kept in an enclosure or a tiger sanctuary. If at all she has to be released again in the wild, she will first have to be trained to live so.
Chouhan wrote that Madhya Pradesh recently received technical approval for construction of tiger sanctuaries in Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench where Sundari will be finally kept. However, as the process of construction of the sanctuary would take time, she would temporarily be kept at the Ghorela centre, which is currently occupied by the cub and the government will have to wait for the relocation until the cub is ready to be sent out in the open.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest for Wildlife Jasbir Chauhan said the construction of a tiger safari will take considerable time even after the grant of sanctions. On the cub at the Ghorela centre, he said, “The monitoring process is on but it cannot be said for certain when will it be completed or the tiger will be ready to be left in the wild.”
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