A male Royal Bengal Tiger may have travelled across four States, covering over 2,000 km of forested terrain over past five months, in search of a suitable territory abundant with prey, or perhaps a potential mate.
Officials of Parlakhemundi Forest Division of Odisha’s Gajapati district have been tracking the movement of one tiger in particular over the past three months. The aforesaid tiger was photographed by a camera installed to estimate tiger populations in the Kumilisingi beat of the Debagiri Range within the Parlakhemundi forest division on Tuesday. Anand S., Divisional Forest Officer of Parlakhemundi, reported that the tiger has been consistently moving in that area since then.
Providing details on how the tiger was spotted in Gajapati, a region that had never recorded tiger sightings before, Mr. Anand said, “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 Brahmapuri forest division of Maharashtra. Tigers exhibit unique stripe patterns, akin to human fingerprints, making it evident that this particular tiger originated from Maharashtra.”
Forest officials speculate that the tiger likely moved to Odisha after traversing through Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The tiger’s movement was initially reported near Gunupur in Odisha’s Rayagada district in July 2023. In August, it entered Andhra Pradesh through Parvathipuram Manyam district, and subsequently moved to Srikakulam. In September, it once again reached the bordering region of Odisha and re-entered the State. Over the last two months, the tiger has been alternating between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
The tiger, known for primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and wild boar, has caused apprehension 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.
“We make 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. Based on our observations, the tiger has been intentionally avoiding human habitations,” the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Parlakhemundi said.
“If the tiger has travelled from Maharashtra to Odisha, the road distance alone is 700 km. It suggests that the tiger is navigating through forested areas, exploring new territories, and the actual distance covered could exceed 2,000 km. In the past month, the tiger has covered more than 500 km, moving from Parlakhemundi to Srikakulam, then to Ichhapuram, and finally returning to Parlakhemundi,” Mr. Anand explained.
The senior forest official said, “The tiger seems to be in search of a territory with a thriving prey population and a potential mate. It appears that 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, “Whenever the tiger moves from our area to theirs, we promptly alert them, and they reciprocate. We engage in joint patrolling if the tiger is observed moving along the border.”