The Royal Bengal Tiger has been sighted in 3 new forest regions of Odisha. This was announced by the State Forest and Environment Ministry, Bijayashree Routray.
Mr. Routray said that movement of tigers captured by closed-circuit television cameras installed at the Hemgiri forest in Sundargarh and Debrigarh sanctuaries in Sambalpur districts was direct evidence of their presence and sounds of tiger roars and cattle killings reported by villagers was indirect evidence of their presence in Muniguda forest in Rayagada district.
The two known habitats of tigers in the state are the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj and the Satokosia Tiger Reserve in Angul district. The state government now believes that the tiger population in Odisha could be at around 60.
Steady Rise In Tiger Numbers
Past census reports do indicate an increasing tiger population in Simlipal district. While the census by the Wildlife Institute of India in 2014 using camera traps indicated that the tiger population there was 28, the tiger census conducted by the State government using camera traps and pug mark identification in 2016 put it at a total of 40. The current census by NTCA (national tiger conservation authority), Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Odisha Forest Department is underway. The results will be known only next year.
It is believed that the Sunabeda sanctuary in Nuapada district has four big cats. However neither has any movement been captured on camera nor has any census been conducted there. Sunabeda was an area with difficult access owing to the presence of Maoists which made the conduct of a tiger census near impossible.
“Sunabeda has been a stronghold of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) because of which the tiger census at the sanctuary has been postponed in the past,” said Mr. Routray.
The Minister hailed the presence of tigers in new areas as the signs of a robust ecosystem and was planning to take initiatives for identifying and developing newer tiger reserves at Debrigarh and Sunabeda
The forest department is also taking steps to increase the tiger population in Satkosia reserve. As part of its plan, six tigers (three pairs) were to be brought from Madhya Pradesh. Two felines (a male and a female) have already been released in Satkosia, but opposition from local population in buffer villages has delayed the transportation and release of the other tigers.
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