Five-member Team From MP Arrives to Take Tigress Sundari Back

The return of Tigress Sundari, who was brought into Odisha only a few years ago and was presently lodged at an enclosure in the Satkosia Tiger Reserve, comes as a relief for the local population after the creature developed man-eating tendencies. However, at the same time, it has also exposed the state forest department’s inefficiency and put a dent in the ambitious tiger translocation project.

A five-member deputation from Kanha arrived in Satkosia on Sunday to take Sundari back, in compliance with an order issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The cost of the journey of the tigress will be borne by the NTCA. The team, which left Kanha on Friday, will initially study the tiger’s behaviour and health, and coordinate with their counterparts in Odisha to secure her custody. Kanha field director SK Singh expects that the tigress would be back at Kanha within four to five days.

A male Royal Bengal Tiger (RBT) named MB2 was brought from Kanha in the first phase of the project. After a few days, Sundari was brought to Satkosia from Bandhavgarh wildlife sanctuary. The male Royal Bengal Tiger was killed in a snare trap laid by poachers. Sundari, after a brief and uneventful stint in the wild, killed two people which led to public anger. The forest department was hence compelled to put Sundari under captivity in an enclosure.

The NTCA had written a letter to ex-Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy in December 2019, seeking the release of the tigress, noting that it cannot be kept in a small enclosure any further. It also suspended the tiger translocation project till further orders, as per its protocols.

“The entire translocation was carried out hurriedly without studying the habitat. The forest department spent crores on the project that never saw light of the day. It is a waste of public money. Despite NTCA recommending stringent action against officials in the charge then, the state government is yet to fix responsibility,” said wildlife campaigner Biswajit Das.

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