Angul: In a major setback to tiger relocation project, the Royal Bengal male tiger Mahavir, who was brought from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh to Satkosia Tiger Reserve was found dead in the core area of the forest on Wednesday.

Mahavir, also known as MB2, was three-year-old and part of the first inter-state tiger relocation in the country in June. The big cat had injuries in the neck which was first spotted by forest officials on Wednesday afternoon.

Satkosia Tiger Reserve authorities have confirmed the death of the male tiger saying, "Tiger monitoring team reported about the mortality of translocated male tiger which was brought from Kanha TR, Madhya Pradesh."

"The incident occurred 500 meters from Raigoda to Nuagada forest road inside the Nuagarh forest reserve of Athagarh forest division," said a release issued by the Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

A deep lacerated and five days old maggotted infected wound was observed in the dorsal neck region of the tiger which may be the cause of the death, the release added.

"A team to conduct post-mortem examination of the tiger carcass has been constituted by Field Director, Satkosia Tiger Reserve comprising of government veterinarian doctors, representative of NTCA, local NGO and others in accordance with the SOP by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The disposal of carcass through incineration will be carried out in presence of the veterinarian team and others as per the NTCA protocol," the release added.

The Forest department has appointed Ramasamy P, DFO of Satkosia Wildlife division as the investigating officer to carry out detail enquiry into the matter.

Later in the day, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) ADG Anup Nayak informed that the tiger translocation project has been temporarily put on hold and next step will be taken after a review.

Nayak further informed, officials of NTCA and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will arrive in Odisha tomorrow to probe into the incident.

Meanwhile, PCCF Sandip Tripathy said, "The male tiger had a maggot infected wound in the dorsal neck region. Reason of injury will be known after post-mortem, but radio collar cannot be the reason of death."

It is pertinent to mention that a tigress from Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, Sundari, the second big cat to be relocated, was tranquilised earlier this month following public outrage as it had allegedly killed two persons. At present, the tigress is kept in an enclosure and her condition is stated to be stable. As per newspaper reports, the National Tiger Conservation Authority which had monitored the complete process, will be sending a team to Satkosia for investigation.

"There might be lapses in the efforts to ensure security of the tiger and this should be reviewed. As this is the first inter-state translocation, this incident is quite saddening. First of all poaching should be stopped for success of such projects," said former PCCF BK Patnaik.

"Death of the male tiger Mahavir is unfortunate. Post-mortem of the big cat will disclose the reason why he died," said Subhendu Mallik, honorary wildlife warden, Khurda.

With the unabated deaths of elephants and tigers in different parts of the State, it seems the wildlife is under serious threat.

Meanwhile, two tuskers were killed yesterday after coming in contact with live electricity wires. While one of the carcass was recovered from Handapa forest range of Angul district, another was recovered from Deuli forest range of Mayurbhanj district.

On October 22, seven elephants had died due to electrocution under Dhenkanal Sadar forest range. Similarly, on September 5, two elephants had died after being electrocuted in Jajpur district.

Expressing grief & horror at the elephant deaths in Odisha, Union Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, wrote to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urging him to take urgent measures to stop elephant deaths in Odisha.