Saswat Singhdeo

Angul: After almost one-and-a-half years since the first-ever inter-State tiger translocation project was launched in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Angul, but had to be put on hold after it triggered protests by locals over alleged attacks by relocated tigress Sundari; the Odisha Forest department is planning to re-launch the project once again.

As per reports, the Forest department will hold a meeting with the locals and the main focus this time will be the preservation of the bio-diversity along with the movement of tigers.

Sources said a roadmap will be prepared and on the basis of the suggestions from the Wildlife Institute of India and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the project will be taken forward, informed Chief Wildlife Warden, Harishankar Upadhyay.

After a meeting with the locals, the decision will be taken on when Tigress Sundari and two more tigers will be released into the reserve.

“After the meeting with the people, we will submit the report to NTCA and take suggestions. The social eco-system should be made favourable first and then only the animals can be released,” said the Chief Wildlife Warden.

On the other hand, Satkosia residents have welcomed the Forest department's move to hold discussions with the locals before taking any decision regarding the re-launch of the project.

“Whatever steps the Forest department is taking now, it should have taken much before,” said Biraj Jani, a Satkosia resident.

However, wildlife experts have raised concerns over the proposed project saying that due to the division of the reserve, it is not an ideal place for tigers. They also said that poaching activity is still rampant in the area which poses a threat for the tigers.

Tiger expert Ganeswar Naik said, “If the Forest department has not made arrangements for the movement of the tiger, then it should not discuss the project with the villagers.”

Sundari was shifted to Satkosia Tiger Reserve from Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh under the first-ever inter-State tiger translocation project in the country in August 2018. She was later relocated to an enclosure on November 6, 2018, after public outrage over an alleged attack on humans and animals.