Fate of Tigress Sundari hangs in balance

Angul: Even though the villagers of Satkosia are living without any threat after relocation of tigress Sundari to an enclosure on November 6, the future of the big cat, which was the first one to be shifted under the inter-State tiger translocation project, seems to be hanging in balance.

“The State government should ensure that residents of Satkosia shouldn’t face any hardship because of its decisions related to tigress Sundari in the future,” a Satkosia resident, Anant Kumar Pradhan said.

Expressing similar views, President of Satkosia Khsyatigrasta Praja Surakshya Samiti (SKPSS), Janardan Sahu said, “Government should think about the people before shifting tigress Sundari.”

Meanwhile, questions are being raised on why the tigress has been kept inside a closure for so many days and whether it will affect the wild animal’s natural instincts in such a controlled environment. A few days back, the National Tiger Conservation Authority had raised questions over the role of the Forest Department in addressing the issue. However, Chief Wildlife Warden Sandeep Tripathy said that NTPC guidelines have been followed and soon Sundari will be released into the forest.

“Lessons learned in the recent past should be used constructively. Experience during Sundari’s stay at Satkosia reserve should make them bring some changes in the guidelines to ensure proper translocation in a human-settlement area,” a wildlife expert Lala Aswini Kumar Singh said.

Sundari, brought from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in June 2018, was released into the Satkosia Tiger Reserve in August as part of the tiger translocation project. But after protests following allegations that the tigress killed two persons and a bullock in separate incidents in Baghamunda and Tainsi villages inside the tiger reserve in October 2018, the State government had decided to capture the big cat and release it into Nandankanan Zoo.