Angul, Jan 2:
Forest officials of the Satkosia Wildlife Division in Angul district have claimed the presence of a number of Royal Bengal tigers (RBT) in the Satkosia Tiger Reserve area.
While the high-powered cameras installed by the forest officials at vantage points inside the forest areas have captured 19 photos of over Royal Bengal tigers, their exact number has not yet been ascertained.
However, the number of the RBTs would be more than five, said the wildlife officials, after a ‘careful study’ of these photos.
With this, the speculations about the presence of these tigers inside the Satkosia forests have been laid to rest.
Recently, when the possibility of releasing a wild tiger, now in captivity in Nandankanan zoo, in Satkosia was discussed, top wildlife officials of the Angul wildlife division had raised serious doubts over the health of the tiger habitat and tiger presence in Satkosia.
While the countrywide census of tigers has already begun, the exact number of Royal Bengal tigers at Satkosia Tiger Reserve would be known in six month’s time, local wildlife officials said.
The Satkosia Wildlife officials had been claiming the presence of 8-10 tigers on the basis of the traditional pug-mark census method, prey kill, excreta, nail marks along the tree trunks and the prey base in the forest.
Following controversies over these census methods, the authorities of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had asked the Satkosia Wildlife Division authorities to adopt camera trap method to ensure accurate census of the tigers.
Acting on the order, the Satkosia Wildlife officials have installed 82 high-powered automatic video cameras in the tiger project areas of which 46 have been installed in the Satkosia Wildlife Division and the rest 36 have been installed in the Mahanadi Wildlife Division.
The area was declared as Satkosia Tiger Reserve in 2007, comprising two adjoining wildlife sanctuaries; the Satkosia Gorge sanctuary and Baisipalli sanctuary. The reserve is spread over 4 districts; Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh.
The reserve has an area of 964 sq km with 524 sq km as core area. The area is also a part of the Mahanadi elephant reserve. Satkosia is the meeting point of two bio-geographic regions of India; the Deccan Peninsula and the Eastern Ghats, contributing to the area’s immense biodiversity.