Bhubaneswar: In order to protect tigers from near extinction in Odisha, the State government on Thursday announced that it will soon roll out a comprehensive plan for DNA profiling of the big cats.
Shedding light on Odisha government’s ambitious plans to check the worrisome decline in the number of wild tigers in the State, Sashi Paul, Chief Wildlife Warden of Odisha said that forest areas where big cats are spotted will be identified and samples of their feces, claw marks will be recorded. The samples will be sent to the Centre for Wildlife Health at the OUAT for DNA profiling.
In his address to the media on the occasion of International Tiger Day, Paul said the new census methodology, which will be implemented for the first time in Odisha, will ensure establishment of a proper database of the population of big cats and their habitats. The system will strengthen the fight against wildlife crimes, especially poaching of leopards, which has been alarmingly rising in Odisha. The DNA profiling of the tigers will help trace the origin of a big cat in case of its death.
Steps on For recognition of one more tiger reserve
In another important development, State Principal Chief Conservator Of Forests (PCCF) Sishir Kumar Ratho informed that Odisha will soon get one more tiger reserve for better conservation of the big cats. After Satkosia and Similipal, extensive efforts are on to fulfill the parameters of the NTCA for recognizing Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary as the third tiger reserve in Odisha.
“Sunabeda is another tiger habitat in the State and plans are afoot to develop it to a new benchmark. If we can meet the NTCA standards, hopefully, we will have a third tiger reserve,” said Ratho.
The top forest official noted that since the number of tigers in the State had remained constant at 28 during the last two censuses in 2014 and 2018, more forest divisions will now be included in the enumeration exercise for the big cats.
3 more wildlife sanctuaries on cards
Odisha might have been a home to rare melanistic tiger in Similipal or boasting incredible success in developing white tigers in captivity at Nandankanan, but tigers in the State are facing an unprecedented threat like never before.
As per the available data, as many as 250 hides of leopards have been recovered from various parts of Odisha between 2012 and 2020 which has become a serious concern for the State government especially in the backdrop of a remarkable resurgence in the population of wild tigers in the country.
It is worth mentioning here that not long ago the State had suffered utter embarrassment following the failure of the much-hyped tiger translocation in Satkosia.
In the backdrop of that development, the government is now planning to create three more wildlife sanctuaries in Gandhamardan forests on the borderline of Bolangir and Bargarh districts, Barbara forest in Khurda-Nayagarh districts and north Athamallik forest in Angul district.