‘Roaring’ cats in Odisha ‘critically vulnerable & need immediate attention’

While State's 32 tigers in 2010 dwindled to 28 in 2014 & 2018, the explosive revelation is Odisha has lost 6 tigers between 2012 & 2018 due to suspected poaching. State recorded 2 tiger deaths in 2018 alone

Bhubaneswar: In the words of well known US wild life expert Jack Hanna, ‘Tiger is the most magnificent creature in the world’. And this ‘magnificent’ striped big cat in Odisha is ‘critically vulnerable and needs immediate conservation attention!’

Such is the grim warning for Odisha in the Tiger Estimation Report – 2018 released by PM Narendra Modi today.

While the country is rejoicing over a hefty increase in the population of this feline species by a humungous 741 during the last 4-years, the 2018 report in no uncertain terms remarked that Odisha failed to post any rise in the population of these roaring cats.

And the life-size message of the report is tiger population showed a spike in only those habitats that are fertile to good management inputs.

This seems a stinging observation on Odisha’s tiger conservation efforts, post the big fiasco over tiger translocation in Satkosia Tiger Reserve recently.

In an important remark on Odisha, the 2018 report very clearly outlined that for tiger reintroduction or supplementation in Simlipal, tigers need to be sourced from the closest source in the same genetic cluster.

The nagging concern for Odisha with regard to increasing tiger population is besides the Left Wing problem playing spoilsport, in Satkosia, the prey population is very scarce. Unless the State goes for quick fixing the irritants on the road of tiger conservation, the nation would keep rejoicing and Odisha will remain crestfallen.

As per the 2018 Tiger Estimation Report, the number count of this feline species is estimated at 28, the same as in 2014.

 An analysis shows that while the 32 tigers counted in 2010 didn’t post any rise by even one in Odisha during the last nine years, the explosive revelation is the State lost around 6 tigers in the period of 2012-18 due to suspected poaching. The State had recorded 2 tiger deaths in 2018.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) report shows 2 tiger deaths during the aforementioned period due to confirmed poaching, 2 such deaths are still under scrutiny, including the recent death of translocated tiger at Satkosia from Madhya Pradesh.

How poaching has played the prime factor in bringing down the tiger population in the State is revealed by the fact that during the period of 2012-18, only a single tiger in the State had a natural death.

The detailed data reveals that as many as six tiger deaths are neither natural nor unnatural (means death of  a big cat owing to electrocution, conflicts etc). While two were confirmed poaching deaths, causes of 2 deaths are still under scrutiny and two deaths were in ‘seizures’ category.

Siezures mean death of tiger confirmed post seizure of body parts of a tiger. Wild life experts term the ‘seizure’ deaths as a result of poaching in the State. This also reveals the slack monitoring of tiger conservation by wildlife authorities in the State, they opined.

In order to prevent Satkosia type fiascos, the report observed that to maintain the source values of tiger reserve populations, ‘political will’  and good management are essential so as to make the core areas inviolated through incentivised voluntary relocation of human habitation.

Wildlife enthusiasts link the observation directly to State’s flip-flop in Satkosia, where the State government failed to encourage an ‘incentivised voluntary relocation of the human habitat in the core areas.