Vikash Sharma

The sighting of two Royal Bengal Tigers at two different places has ended the ongoing debate over the presence of the big cats in Odisha.

While one Royal Bengal Tiger was spotted in Ghatagaon forest range of Keonjhar district, the other one was found in the Debrigarh sanctuary near Bargarh.

The one at Keonjhar is believed to be around 3-4 years old. The RBT is suspected to have reached Ghatagaon from Similipal to Satakosia through Karanjia, said PCCF Sushil Kumar Popli.

Royal Bengal Tiger, which was spotted roaming in Debrigarh sanctuary spanning across the districts of Sambalpur and Bargarh, is said to have ventured into Bargarh from the jungles of Chhattisgarh.

The spotting of the Royal Bengal Tiger at Debrigarh has come as positive news for Odisha as its forests are considered to be suitable habitat for the big cats and their breeding. 

After Similipal and Satkosia, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has accorded in-principle approval to Odisha government’s proposal to declare Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve (TR).

It is now on the Odisha government to officially issue a notification to this effect. Once it is done, Debrigarh will be declared a tiger reserve. 
Meanwhile, the forest department has now stepped up its activities after the NTCA recommendation by setting up cameras to track the movement of the tiger and sanctioned additional staff. 

Though the wildlife activities have welcomed such move, the locals staying close to the forest have demanded concrete measures on part of the state government to protect their lives.

“We don’t want to go against the government’s decision. But the government should first focus on the protection of our lives,” said a local resident.
Debrigrah DFO, Anshupragya Das said, “The proposal was sent in 2018 and the NTCA has approved it and now it is under process. The villagers will get all the facilities and they will get more work. Other eco-development activities can also be taken up.”

As per the data of the Forest Survey of India, Odisha was home to 9 tigers in 2021. Out of the total numbers, 8 were in Similipal and another in Satkosia.

Meanwhile, the tiger at Satkosia has died while the tigress which was brought from Madhya Pradesh has returned after failure of the translocation project.