Sariska lessons ignored; Odisha tiger shift in trouble

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Sariska lessons ignored; Odisha tiger shift in trouble

Friday, 26 October 2018 | SANJEEV KUMAR PATRO | BHUBANESWAR

Unlike the successful relocation of tigers in Sariska tiger reserve from Ranthambore and Koladeo National Parks during 2008-2013, the first such inter-State relocation in Odisha has run into aroaring trouble.

The female tiger relocated from Bandhavgarh was found on prowl afterlivestock and humans sparking a human – tiger conflict to a violentlevel last week and forcing the Forest Department to attempt for capturing by sedating the migrant female tiger.

Now the moot point here is why the Odisha translocation met with partial success? The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has relocated only one male in Satkosia keeping in mind the behaviour of the large carnivores as it has been observed that since male tigers are territorial fundamentalists, any social pressure means competition with other male tiger for resources like food or mating.

The decision also to introduce a female tiger to Satkosia  hinged on behavioural attitudes of females as they are lesser fundamentalists territorially. However, while the relocation exercise worked as per WII plans in case of male tiger, the same failed to materialise in case of the female tiger in Satkosia. According to wildlife watchers, hunting of cattle or humans by tigeris rare and if such scenario is observed then the reason could be inadequate prey density (available quantity of prey given in the area) for the introduced female tiger in Satkosia.

The frequent straying and hunting by the tigress in the peripheral areas of the forest raises pertinent questions about Satkosia’s ability to support large tiger population.

The nagging question becomes more of a talking point given the inability of the State Forest Department to release data regarding stretches of territorial occupation of the tigers in Satkosia currently, and the core area stretch of the reserve for the tigers.

Moreover, the State Forest Department has to apportion the blame of mismanagement post introduction of big cat in Satkosia as unlike the rearguard actions taken in Sariska post tiger translocation like erecting masonry walls at strategic places to prevent livestock grazing, collection of forest produces or wood and human-tiger interface etc are missing in Satkosia.

Also, when the pugmarks of the migrant female tiger were noticed around the villages situated on the periphery of the reserve, the State Forest Department failed to deploy tiger guards at vintage points to prevent any human-tiger conflict.

“Tiger translocation is not only expensive and exhaustive but also time consuming. As tigers first explore areas to mark their territory, they take time to identify and settle in core areas. Meanwhile, such stray-outs are expected initially, a little alert by the ForestDepartment could have averted this uncalled for agitation by locals that put the exhaustive process at risk,” confided a WII official toThe Pioneer.

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