Dilip Kumar

Bhubaneswar/Angul: Finally, the process for the return of tigress Sundari from Satkosia in Angul district is about to conclude with a six-member team of experts reaching Odisha today to make study on the behaviour and health of the animal before her translocation probably in the next few days.

The team comprising an assistant conservator of forest and a veterinary expert with other auxiliary staff, which has arrived in the State, will visit the special enclosure at Raiguda in Satkosia where the big cat has been kept since 2018. The team will take two to three days to study on its behaviour before transferring it to Ghorela Rewilding Centre in Madhya Pradesh. A special van has also been brought to the State for the transportation of the animal.

The team has planned to catch the big cat through trap. If the strategy fails, the tigress will be tranquilised, Satkosia Field Director said.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Sashi Paul said that the Kanha team will remain there for at least 3-4 days and study on the tigress' health and behaviour. Then, decision will be taken for its translocation.

‘Sundari' was brought from the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in June 2018 and released into Satkosia Tiger Reserve as a part of India's first tiger translocation programme.

The tigress was shifted to the enclosure after it had allegedly killed a woman and an elderly man living in the reserve forest area in September 2018, triggering widespread resentment among locals.

Following the incident, locals had torched a forest beat house and demanded shifting of the big cat.

In 2019, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had asked the Odisha government to send back Sundari to its place of origin.

In December last year, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had written to his Odisha counterpart alleging mishandling of the tigress by Odisha forest department. He had requested the Odisha CM to ensure proper care of the animal until his State forest department was fully prepared to take it back.