December 10, 2023 – In an extraordinary journey spanning over five months, a male Royal Bengal Tiger has traversed an impressive 2,000 km, venturing across four states in search of a suitable territory abundant with prey or a potential mate. The tiger’s odyssey has been meticulously monitored by officials from the Parlakhemundi Forest Division in Odisha’s Gajapati district.
The tiger’s epic journey began to unfold three months ago when it was first captured by a camera installed for estimating tiger populations in the Kumilisingi beat of the Devagiri Range within the Parlakhemundi forest division. Anand S., Divisional Forest Officer of Parlakhemundi, reported that the tiger has consistently moved within that area since its initial capture.
The sighting itself is particularly remarkable as Gajapati, the region in which the tiger was spotted, had never recorded tiger sightings before. Mr. Anand explained, “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.”
Forest authorities further revealed that the tiger likely journeyed through Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh before arriving in Odisha, covering a vast and unprecedented distance. The initial report of the tiger’s movement surfaced near Gunupur in Odisha’s Rayagada district in July 2023.
The tiger’s route took it to Andhra Pradesh through the Parvathipuram Manyam district in August, 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.
This unprecedented journey has raised concerns among the population in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, particularly as the tiger is known for preying on ungulates such as deer and wild boar. As a precautionary measure, the forest department has issued alerts for people residing within a 20 km radius of the tiger’s current location.
The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Parlakhemundi emphasized 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. Despite moving in areas dominated by humans, the tiger has not displayed aggression towards them, focusing solely on pursuing cattle.
The tiger’s incredible journey from Maharashtra to Odisha implies navigation through forested areas, venturing into new territories, and covering an actual distance that might surpass 2,000 km. Over the past month alone, the tiger has covered more than 500 km, progressing from Parlakhemundi to Srikakulam, then to Ichapuram, and ultimately returning to Parlakhemundi.
In an intriguing twist, the senior forest official stated that the tiger seems to be conducting a survey in search of a territory with a thriving prey population and a potential mate. Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are collaboratively monitoring the tiger’s movements, with Mr. Anand expressing that if the tiger finds suitable conditions, it may establish its territory in the region.