People living within the Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha on Sunday attacked forest and police officers, alleging that a tigress recently shifted to Satkosia from Madhya Pradesh has claimed another human life.
The deceased has been identified as Trinath Sahoo of Tainsi village in Angul district. The tigress, named Sundari, is learnt to have attacked Sahoo when he was fishing by a forest stream. Following the incident, local residents reportedly beat up a senior forest officer and vandalised a police vehicle.
Last month, Satkosia witnessed violence by local residents after Sundari killed a local woman, Kailasi Sai of Hatibari village. Post-mortem had concluded that the woman was “killed by a carnivore”. The local residents had then demanded immediate removal of all tigers from Satkosia.
In June, a 195-kg tiger was shifted from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh to Satkosia in a pilot initiative to boost tiger population in Odisha. Days later, a tigress was brought from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. The shifting of both tigers is part of a project by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and its statutory body National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) that aims to shift six tigers — three males and three females.
According to experts, authorities should have assessed the reason behind the fall in the number of tigers in the area before bringing new tigers.
As per Odisha’s Forest Department data, in January 2004, Satkosia had 11 tigers, including four adult males and six adult females. “The number went down to eight in 2010 and to two (old females) in 2014,” said former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Odisha Bijay Ketan Patnaik.
Tiger conservationists say it is critical to identify and mitigate factors responsible for a decline in tiger population before trying to introduce new tigers in the area. “First protect the forest, curb illegal hunting, wait for prey numbers to rise… takes 15 years or so,” says tiger conservationist Dr Ullas Karanth.