A male Royal Bengal Tiger has likely journeyed across four states, covering over 2,000 km of forested terrain over the past five months, in search of a suitable territory abundant with prey or perhaps a potential mate.
Officials from the Parlakhemundi Forest Division in Odisha’s Gajapati district have been diligently tracking the movement of a specific tiger over the last three months. The said tiger was captured by a camera installed for estimating tiger populations in the Kumilisingi beat of the Devagiri Range within the Parlakhemundi forest division on Tuesday. Anand S., Divisional Forest Officer of Parlakhemundi, reported that the tiger has consistently moved within that area since then.
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Detailing the unusual sighting in Gajapati, a region that had never recorded tiger sightings previously, Mr. Anand stated, “About a month ago, the tiger was captured on camera in the Gajapati forest. We sent the image to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for mapping, and they confirmed that the camera-trapped image matched with a tiger previously photographed in the Bramhapuri forest division of Maharashtra. Tigers exhibit unique stripe patterns, akin to human fingerprints, making it evident that this particular tiger originated from Maharashtra.”
Forest authorities informed that the tiger probably journeyed through Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh before arriving in Odisha. The initial report of the tiger’s movement surfaced near Gunupur in Odisha’s Rayagada district in July 2023. By August, it had entered Andhra Pradesh through the Parvathipuram Manyam district, later proceeding to Srikakulam. In September, the tiger once more approached the bordering region of Odisha, re-entering the state. For the past two months, the tiger has been oscillating between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
Known for primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and wild boar, the tiger has raised concerns among the population in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Consequently, the forest department has issued alerts for people residing within a 20 km radius of the tiger’s location.
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Referring to this, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Parlakhemundi added that they are making efforts to educate people about recognizing the tiger’s pugmark.
The tiger has a distinctive method of killing and consuming cattle, starting from the back. Although the tiger is moving in a landscape dominated by humans, it has not displayed aggression towards them. It seems to be focused solely on pursuing cattle.
If the tiger has journeyed from Maharashtra to Odisha, the road distance alone spans 700 km. This implies that the tiger is navigating through forested areas, venturing into new territories, and the actual distance covered might surpass 2,000 km. Over the past month, the tiger has traversed more than 500 km, progressing from Parlakhemundi to Srikakulam, then to Ichapuram, and ultimately returning to Parlakhemundi, added Mr. Anand.
The senior forest official also added that the tiger seems to be in search of a territory with a thriving prey population and a potential mate. It appears that the tiger has come for a survey, and if it finds suitable conditions, it will establish its territory.
Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are collaboratively monitoring the tiger’s movements. Mr. Anand said.