Bhubaneswar/Angul: Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray Thursday allayed villagers’ fear of the Royal Bengal tiger recently released in the Satkosia Tiger Reserve saying it will cause them no harm.
The minister’s assurance comes a day after several thousand villagers laid siege to the District Collector’s office at Angul Wednesday demanding that the tiger be put back in the enclosure.
They also threatened to shoot the tiger.
“People’s apprehension of the tiger harming them is totally wrong,” Routray said in Bhubaneswar.
He pointed out that tigers were already there and the new one was just an addition. “There is sufficient space and food for the animal in the forest, therefore it won’t attack humans,” he said.
Forest dwellers from 20 panchayats under the reserve said they should have been informed before the tiger was released into the forest. They complained that they were unable to collect forest produce or let their cattle and goats out for grazing for fear of the tiger.
They took out a rally under the banner of Satkosia Khyatigrasta Surakhya Samiti (SKSS) and marched up to the District Collectorate where they staged a dharna.
The villagers were scheduled to approach the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) Thursday.
Mahabir, the tiger, was brought from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh June 21 and after being held in an enclosure for sometime was released into the Satkosia Tiger Reserve.
A tigress, Sundari, brought from Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh June 28, is also waiting to be released into the wild once it completes its acclimatisation process.
The pair has been brought – in the first-ever inter-state translocation exercise of tigers in the country — to augment the tiger population in the Satkosia Tiger Reserve.