International Tiger Day: Odisha optimistic to ensure survival of big cats  

Bhubaneswar: As the whole world celebrates the International Tiger Day on July 29, Odisha is optimistic about ensuring survival of the big cat particularly after its concerted efforts to revamp the tiger population in the state through the country’s first ever successful inter-state tiger relocation from Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha Tiger Reserve to the state’s Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

On occasion of the International Tiger Day, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged everyone to unite and show respect to the endangered species by continuing to conserve its habitat and allowing it to flourish.

“On #InternationalTigerDay let us unite to show our respect to the majestic species by renewing our resolve to conserve and protect its habitat and let it flourish,” Naveen tweeted.

Programmes on awareness for the conservation of tigers were held across the state today. A special event was organised to mark the occasion at the Nandankanan Zoological Park here famous for its big cat population especially the rare melanistic white tigers.

“We have been celebrating the day since 2010 .Nandankanan is famous for captive breeding of the tigers and people especially children should learn the importance and protection of this big cat,” said K L Purohit the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Nandankanan Biological Park.

At present, while there is a confusion in the exact number of tigers in Odisha,  the government has assessed that the numbers could be around 40. However, the data by the National Tiger Conservation Authority in 2014 stated that while there has been a 30% rise in the population of tiger in the country, Odisha has faced a considerable decline in the tiger count from 32 in 2010 to 28 in 2014.

It may be noted that in June this year, Odisha welcomed a three-year-old male tiger from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and a female tigress from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the country’s first successful inter-state tiger relocation programme. While the male tiger has been released into Satkosia forest, its female counterpart is still rehabilitating in a special enclosure.

The step garnered support from all quarters including wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists. Experts believe that this effort to spur the dwindling population of the tiger in forests of Odisha will turn out to be a big achievement as the state government also looks to relocate three more tigers in coming months.

In 2010, 13 Asian nations that are home to tigers, including India, joined hands for the Global Tiger Recovery Program, an initiative which pledges to double the global tiger population by 2022. These nations decided to mark July 29 as the International Tiger Day.