Unlike what happened to ‘Avni’ in Yavatmal of Maharashtra, forest officials of Odisha succeeded in tranquilizing tigress Sundari deep in Satkosia reserve forest on Tuesday. It was shifted to a special enclosure within the forest area at Raiguda from where it had been released to the wild after being translocated from Bandhabgarh in Madhya Pradesh in July.
It has regained its sense and is fine, said secretary forest Suresh Mahapatra. The special enclosure in which the tigress has been kept has live prey and water body.
Tigress Sundari had been one of the first tigers to be translocated from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha in July. A month prior to it a tiger from Kanha in MP had been released to Satkosia in what was the first ever wild-to-wild inter-state translocation of tigers in the country.
Forest Minister of Odisha Bijayshree Routray had taken the unique initiative and held elaborate discussions with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Wildlife Institute of India and tiger experts to chalk out the translocation plan.
The prey base of Satkosia which had only one big cat was studied and finally it was agreed to shift three pairs of tigers from MP to Odisha. First a male was transported from Kanha, kept for over a fortnight at the special enclosure at Raiguda before being released to the wild at Satkosia. It was tracked and found that the male had marked its territory with the existing tigress.
Subsequently, the tigress Sundari was brought and released following the same routine.
But Sundari was alleged to have killed two persons and livestock as it kept moving close to bordering villages. On 12 and 14 September, villagers turned violent after the alleged killings. The agitation was backed by opposition political leaders, particularly the local BJP leadership.
Buckling under pressure, the government decided to concede to the demand of evicting Sundari from Satkosia and three teams were deputed to tranquilize it.
Teams from Madhya Pradesh, WII were also on the search parties. For several weeks Sundari, though tracked, remained elusive. A trained elephant was also engaged.
Today, at 11 am, while Sundari was moving closer to Tikarpara zone along Mahanadi near a village Majhipada, the team of forest and veterinary doctors from Nandankanan and Angul succeeded in tranquilizing it.
The teams from Madhya Pradesh and WII had left Angul and it was left to the team of Odisha forest and veterinary officers to undertake the task.
The tigress was shifted in a cage to Raiguda special enclosure, neutralized of the tranquiliser effect. She will be kept under vigil with CCTV cameras and the collar on her.
What is to be done next – whether to release her to the wild in some other area like Similipal or the core area of any other tiger reserve – will be decided after discussing with NTCA and WII, Mahapatra added.