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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mahanadi Wildlife comes under unified control

Siba Mohanty BHUBANESWAR: More than four years after Satkosia was designated a Tiger Reserve, the Odisha Government has finally brought Mahanadi Wildlife Division under the unified control of the Field Director, meeting a long-standing demand of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The Regional Conservator of Forests (RCCF), Angul, is the Field Director of Satkosia Tiger Reserve which comprises two wildlife sanctuaries such as Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary and Baisipally Sanctuary, both protected areas contiguous in nature. While the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, managed by Satkosia Divisional Forest officer (DFO), was under administrative control of RCCF, Angul, Baisipally Wildlife Sanctuary was under the RCCF, Bhubanbeswar. Besides, Baisipally was managed by Divisional Forest Officer of Mahanadi Wildlife Division. The NTCA, while according Tiger Reserve status on Satkosia, had been insisting on bringing Baisipally under the control of the unified command of the Field Director. “There were two issues that the national authority has long been pressing for __� one, a full-fledged Field Director (FD) for the Tiger Reserve and bringing Baisipally under the FD’s jurisdiction,” sources in the Forest and Environment department said. In fact, the last meeting with NTCA earlier this month had also seen the authority expressing its dissatisfaction over the Odisha Government going slow over the process. “Conservation management in a Tiger Reserve has many complex issues and the State Government should have realised this sooner than later,” the sources added. The Forest and Environment department, through a notification, has now taken out Mahanadi Wildlife Division from RCCF, Bhubaneswar’s control and entrusted it with the RCCF, Angul. Earlier, RCCF, Angul, Pandav Behera, was designated the full-time Field Director. Satkosia Tiger Reserve, spread over Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh, has a total area of 964 sq km with 524 sq km as core area which lies within Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary. While Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary has an area of 795.52 sq km, Baisipally is spread over 168.35 sq km. The total area of Mahanadi Wildlife Division is 437.29 sq km. Although Satkosia is a Tiger Reserve, the NTCA is not conducting the tiger enumeration this year since it has been designated a low-density reserve. On the other hand, Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) has already launched the exercise. Over 70 cameras have been installed over 400 sq km in the core area of the reserve. However, the outcome of the sign survey, basing on which the camera traps are installed, is yet to be complete. The STR authorities are expecting the report in the next few weeks. Once the sign survey indicates the tiger habitation, more cameras will be installed in the second phase during which the STR management plan to cover 1,200 sq km. The existing cameras will capture pictures of the the large cats for 40 days.

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