Bhubaneswar, Jan 21:
A Royal Bengal tiger that had strayed into the Nandankanan Zoo seven months ago would be released in the Similipal National Park.
After spending seven months in captivity, the majestic Royal Bengal tiger that walked into the Nandankanan Zoo seven months ago Zoological Park would be released in the wild soon.
“A decision to this effect was taken at a high level meeting attended by the forest officials and members of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) here recently,” state Forest and Environment secretary RK Sharma said, adding that the tiger would be released under the supervision of the NTCA.
The Forest and Environment department has decided to form a five-member committee to prepare modalities before release of the wild Bengal tiger into the Similpal Tiger Reserve, in Mayurbhanj district.
“We have decided to form a committee comprising wildlife official of state, Wildlife of India and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to find out the modalities to release the tiger into the reserve. After deciding the modalities, the final approval will be taken from Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF),” said SS Srivastav, PCCF (Wildlife).
He said that even though the NTCA has given its nod to release the tiger in Similipal, there is need to do a lot of ground work and complete certian modalities including identification of a suitable site where the tiger can be released and ensure that it is a no-conflict zone.
However, sources in the the department said funds are also an issue because the radio-collar to be tied around the neck of the big cat to monitor the its movement will cost Rs 7 lakh.
According to sources, the department has approached the NTCA to bear the cost of the radio collar which has to be imported from abroad since it is not being manufactured in India.
It may be mentioned that the Royal Bengal tiger had strayed into the zoo on April 30 last year and escaped after jumping off an 18 feet high wire-fence a month later on May 31.
However, the big cat again made its way to the zoo on June 24 and was held in captivity by the zoo staff.
The captivity of the tiger later sparked off a controversy as several wildlife activists had demanded an early release of the tiger in the wild.