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Grand plan to repopulate Odisha tiger reserve comes to a naught

Tigress, which attacked people frequently, set to be sent back to Madhya Pradesh

The grand plan to repopulate Odisha’s Satkosia Tiger Reserve has come to a naught with Sundari, one of a tiger pair, set to be sent back to Madhya Pradesh.

A team of veterinarians from the Kanha Tiger Reserve is likely to reach Satkosia with a special van on Sunday to take back Sundari, which has been kept in a special enclosure deep inside the Satkosia forest.

The return of tigress is taking place after several communications among the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Madhya Pradesh and Odisha forest and environment departments.

An official said the health of the tigress would be checked before it is allowed to be transported.

In 2018, Odisha had pushed for the programme by proposing to bring three pairs of tigers from Madhya Pradesh. It had then said Satkosia had abundant prey base.

In the first year, a tiger was brought from Kanha and a tigress was gifted by the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve as part of the reintroduction programme.

The first inter-State relocation programme had not had a smooth rollout with the tigress straying into human habitation and attacking people frequently. Satkosia is surrounded by huge human habitations.

The death of two persons had led to a massive uproar forcing the government to capture the big cat. In November 2018, the first tiger, which was brought from Kanha, had died due to poaching.

In 2018, the NTCA had recorded only one tiger in Satkosia while the apex body on conservation pointed out that the big cat reserve had potential to sustain more.

The NTCA had attributed failed supplementation of tigers primarily to hostility of local communities and their intensive use of the reserve’s resources for livelihoods. It recommended that community participation, alternative livelihood and law enforcement were required to be strengthened before contemplation of any supplementation.

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