Shifting Of Bengal Tigress Sundari From Satkosia Not Decided: Minister

Bhubaneswar: In the wake of the death of a woman, who was allegedly mauled to death by Royal Bengal tigress ‘Sundari’ on the outskirts of Hatibari village in Tikarpada area of Angul district on Wednesday morning, the Odisha government on Friday said a decision to shift the tigress from Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary is yet to be taken.

“We have informed the matter to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) who will take a decision in this regard,” Forest and Environment minister Bijayshree Routray told mediapersons here.

He further said that it is not yet ascertained whether the woman died after being attacked by the Bengal tigress. The postmortem report will confirm the cause of her death, he pointed out.

Stating that the torching of the Hatibari Forest Beat House and the Tikarpada Range Office by the people of Hatibari village was in gross violation of the rules, the minister said action would be taken against the accused.

According to Bijay Ketan Patnaik, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), it is for the WII officials to decide on shifting Sundari from Satkosia.

If the postmortem attributed the woman’s death to the tigress, it will be kept in zoo and never released into the wild either in Satkosia or in Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh since having killed a human being it will never look for the herbivorous animals in the forest and always target human settlements, he said.

Patnaik further maintained that if WII decides to take back the Bengal tigress from Satkosia to her native habitat in Bandhavgarh National Park, it will be a big blow to the tiger conservation project of the Odisha government as the Madhya Pradesh government will not allow transportation of another pair of Bengal tiger as there is every likelihood of the royal cats being killed by the villagers residing in the periphery of Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

Explaining the reasons for the aggressive behaviour of the Bengal tigress, the former PCCF said that prior to her shifting from Bandhavgarh, there are two Bengal tigresses in Satkosia. “The male Royal Bengal tiger ‘Mahavir’, who was brought from the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh and released into the wild of Satkosia, has now teamed up with the two Bengal tigresses. As Sundari has been released into the wild of Satkosia, she is now looking for her mate having attained puberty. It is most likely that the two Bengal tigresses have kept her away and not allowed her to mate with Mahavir. This could be the reason for her getting aggressive,” he pointed out.

Patnaik also said that Sundari might be used to killing the domestic animals in Bandhavgarh for which she had killed a calf in Athmallik Forest Range after covering a distance of about 40 km from the sanctuary.

The state government should have discussed with the villagers residing in Satkosia periphery and taken necessary precautionary measures before bringing the Bengal tigress to Satkosia, he added.

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