BHUBANESWAR/ANGUL: India’s first ever inter-state tiger relocation carried out by Odisha has proved that Forest Department is ill-equipped to handle the huge task and responsibility it took upon itself to repopulate big cats at Satkosia Tiger Reserve.
Wilting under pressure from the local agitation much of which is politically motivated, the administration on Thursday assured protestors that it would try and relocate the big cat which has come as a huge loss of face for the Government.
The district and forest administrations held discussion with the agitators at Hatibari village a day after irate locals went on an arson spree, setting fire to forest offices and boats at Tikarpada.
With locals remaining unmoved in their demand, the police, forest and district administration assured that the tigress would be shifted out. Going by sources, the Forest Department may attempt to move the young tigress from its existing location to another place in Satkosia.
All this happened as locals did not release body of the woman who was allegedly mauled by the tigress. Since post-mortem could not be conducted, the exact reason of death of the victim is yet to be ascertained.
However, relocating the tigress is easier said than done. A Schedule I species, its relocation would require confirmation from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which has not been intimated about the incident as yet.
NTCA seeks report
However, the national body on Thursday shot off a letter to the State Forest Department seeking a first report on the entire episode.Reliable sources said the NTCA has asked the Forest Department to inform the measures undertaken to protect the lives of the locals as well as the tigress and submit an action taken report.
Since the tigress is fitted with a radio as well as a satellite collar, its exact location is tracked by the Satkosia TR officials. Under what circumstances, the locals were not prevented from venturing into the forest areas despite presence of the big cat needs investigation.
The incident has also shown that the Forest Department has not been able to win confidence of the locals who are being instigated by vested interests ever since the tigress was released.The Satkosia Praja Surakhya Samiti, which staged road blockade at Hatibari obstructing the Tikarapara-Angul road for more than 24 hours, called off its agitation following intervention by the district administration.
While they demanded `50 lakh in compensation, the district administration said family of the victim will get `4 lakh ex gratia but only after post-mortem. The district Red Cross, under the orders of Collector Anil Samal provided `20,000 for funeral expenses of the woman. Police and forest teams will guard the tigress which is still near Hatibari village.