Tiger translocation put on hold in Odisha; Sundari to be sent back

Bhubaneswar: Seems like the tiger translocation programme to increase population of big cats in Odisha turned out to be a failure as tigress ‘Sundari’ kept at enclosure at Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Angul district will be sent back to Madhya Pradesh soon.

In a letter to Odisha Chief Secretary, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) mentioned that tigress T-2 (Sundari) will be brought to Kanha Tiger Reserve from Satkosia Tiger Reserve with immediate effect for rewilding.

The move came in view of state government’s lack of initiatives for protecting two tigers brought from Madhya Pradesh as part of tiger reintroduction programme at Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

“The Tigress T-2 cannot be allowed to be kept in a small enclosure for any longer time. Therefore, in interest of Tiger Conservation, the tigress T-2 shall be withdrawn and brought to Ghorela centre at Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh with immediate effect for re-wilding and subsequent release to suitable habitat,” said the letter dated Dec 17, 2019.

Also, the tiger translocation programme will remain suspended till the ground situation improves as per the NTCA guidelines and subsequent feasibility study by the tiger conservation authorities.

Tigress Sundari was brought to Satkosia from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in 2018 under tiger translocation project approved by the NTCA for tiger augmentation and management at Satkosia. However, the authorities were forced to keep the wild animal inside an enclosure following its repeated straying into human habitations at Satkosia. The tigress had allegedly mauled two persons at villages inside the reserve.

Expressing displeasure over the state government’s failed attempts against poaching, the NTCA said that tiger T-1 (Kanha), which was translocated from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh under the project, was found dead at Satkosia on Nov 11, 2018. The preliminary investigation indicated that the tiger died due to poaching.

“Further, tigress T-2 which was brought to Satkosia from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is being kept in an enclosure on ground of being dangerous to human life without following the SOPs to that effect. NTCA suggested that serious efforts are needed to release the tigress in wild while appropriately handling Tigress T-2 in captivity as per protocol/guidelines of this authority,” the letter stated.

On the basis of overall review of tiger augmentation programme, the NTCA observed that both the animals were not monitored and managed as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) and protocol of NTCA. Even the repeated communications from NTCA were not taken seriously by the state Forest Department.

Besides, the funds provided under CSS-Project Tiger were diverted from specified items/activities without authorization for deviation from Government of India. Further, even after substantial fund releases from Government of India the project has not shown any significant output, NTCA Deputy Inspector General Surendra Mehra mentioned in the letter.

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