One Year On, Tigress Sundari Still Leads A Caged Life

Angul: Even as one year has passed since Royal Bengal tigress Sundari was kept in an enclosure, the State Forest department is yet to take any decision for release of the captive big cat into the wild.

Sundari which was shifted to Odisha’s 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 was relocated to an enclosure on November 6, 2018 after public outrage over reports of its attack on humans and animals.

Raising public apprehension over the prospects of release of the tigress, Biraj Kumar Jani, secretary of Satkosia Khsyatigrasta Praja Suraksha Samiti (SKPSS) said, “We had earlier complained about the danger possessed by the presence of the tigress in the wild. It is very sad if they contemplate about releasing it into forest again.”

“Tiger is our national animal. Nobody will raise objection against the increase in the tiger population. However, the project should be implemented keeping in view the interest of the public,” said Trilochan Jena, a resident in Satkosia forest area.

Sundari had struck terror into the heart of people after it reportedly mauled two persons and a bullock in separate incidents in Baghamunda and Tainsi villages inside Satkosia Tiger Reserve in October last year. Following the public outcry, the Forest department in consultation with WII and NTCA, tranquilised the tigress with the help of a Kumki elephant on November 6, 2018. Subsequently, the big cat was relocated to a special rehabilitation enclosure.

Although the health condition of Sundari is stated to be good, experts have raised concerns saying that keeping it in the enclosure for such a long time will certainly affect its health. Besides, the situation might also severely impede the State’s ambitious tiger repopulation project.

“If you keep a big cat in enclosure for a long time, it will have a bad impact on its physical and mental health and the situation even becomes worse when you release it into the wild because it may have completely lost its instinct and capacity to survive in the wild making it vulnerable. Besides, it will pose threat to the life of people too,” Environmentalist Biswaranjan Patnaik said.

Pradip Raj Karat, field director, Satkosia Tiger Project, Angul said, “Awareness will be created among people. The Satkosia management authorities will carry out all activities with people’s participation in a balanced way before releasing the tigress.”

Similarly, Ramaswami P, DFO of Satkosia Wildlife Division said, “We are ready to create awareness among people and go ahead with their consent but the higher authorities will take the final call in this regard.”