Tigress Sundari: Two trained elephants deployed in Satkosia

Angul: Odisha Forest department has mobilized two elephants from Similipal Tiger Reserve which will be deployed at Satkosia Tiger Reserve. It is suspected that the two trained elephants- Mahendra and Rajkumar has been roped in to track movement of tigress Sundari after it’s release from a special enclosure in Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

However, PCCF (Wildlife) Sandeep Tripathy clarified that the two elephants have been roped in for general security and no decision to release tigress Sundari from its enclosure has been taken so far.

It may be noted that, the decision to shift the elephants to track the movement of the tigress was earlier opposed by residents of several areas near Similpal Reserve. The residents had claimed that the jumbos should not be relocated as they have been doing several works for the wildlife department at the reserve.

It is pertinent to mention here that the tigress has been kept in a special enclosure at Raiguda inside Satkosia Tiger Reserve after being tranquilised on November 6, 2018 by a team of experts with the help of a Kumki (trained) elephant named Yashoda.

National Tiger Conservation Authority has been raising concerns on the prolonged presence of the tigress inside the enclosure saying that it might affect the big cat’s natural instinct.

Sundari, which was brought from the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in June 2018, was released into the Satkosia Tiger Reserve in August as a part of the inter-state tiger translocation project.

But allegations of death of two persons and a bullock due to attack by the tigress in separate incidents in Baghamunda and Tainsi villages inside the tiger reserve area in October last year sparked public outcry and forced the Forest department to relocate the big cat back into the special rehabilitation enclosure.

On the backdrop of death of a mahout after being trampled by elephant ‘Yashoda’ brought to Satkosia to help in tranquilisation of tigress Sundari in November last year, Similpal Reserve deputy director Sanjay Kumar Swain said that both Mahendra and Rajkumar elephants are quite dependable as far as safety is concerned.

“Elephant Mahendra has been engaged in protection, tracking and monitoring movement of tigers with efficiency and also assisting in tourism for last 18 years. The mahouts are also very well trained,” Swain added.