ANGUL: After the Nandankanan zoo authorities captured a wild male tiger and incarcerated in the zoo for the mating purpose, the tiger population in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Angul district faces an extinction threat as surveys carried out in the last four years indicate the presence of a lone tigress in the reserve forest.
The tiger project is left with only a female tiger which was frequently caught in the camera during the recent census drive, said sources.
However, the forest authorities are tight-lipped over the tiger population in the Satkosia tiger reserve.
A male tiger, a companion of the tigress, crossed the project limits and strayed into Nandankanan Zoological Park via Chandaka, Dhenkanal and Athagarh. The tiger was first noticed on National Highway-55 adjoining forests under Dhenkanal Division August 24, 2012.
The presence of tiger on highway triggered panic among commuters. Its pugmarks were sighted at various places around the region before it finally strayed into Chandaka sanctuary and entered Nandankanan.
After staying there for four days, the animal was finally trapped by zoo authorities April 30, 2013. However, the forest officials made no attempts to bring it back to Satkosia as a result of which the tigress was deprived of a companion.
The forest, home to Royal Bengal Tigers, was declared the second tiger project of the state in 2007. Spread over 964 sqkm the project area spans Ganda and Baisi reserve forests inside the Satkosia sanctuary.
In the past, the forest used to have rare RBTs, leopards, elephants and a host of other wild animals. According to a 2004 census, 18 RBTs and 32 leopards were found in the forest.
However, from 2010 onwards the big cat population in the forest witnessed a declining trend. Now, the forest has a single tigress, the sources said.
Wildlife experts and environmentalists claimed if immediate efforts are not made to increase the tiger population in the forest the animal might soon become extinct. Some even apprehend that the project might meet the same fate as Sariska reserve forest in Rajasthan where the tiger population became extinct in 2005.