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Whiff of tigress in Chandaka sanctuary

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 27: Forest officials have traced pugmarks of what could be a tigress and its cub in the Chandaka-Damapada sanctuary.

Forest officials of Chandaka wildlife division have found the pugmarks in two areas — Talabasta and Banra — under the forest division.

Talabasta is situated on the western part of the division, and Banra in the north. Sources in the Chandaka forest division said the pugmarks might be of the same tigress and its cub.

“As the distance between the two places is around seven to eight kilometres, it is possible that the pugmarks are of the same tigress, as wild cats can cover a distance of up to 10 kilometres a day,” said a senior forest official. The area in Talabasta is an abandoned mines area where the big cat is believed to have come for water.

Local residents have been informing the forest officials about the presence of a wild cat in the area since the past four days. “We have visited Talabasta and found the pugmarks. We have also taken photographs of the pugmarks. We are monitoring the movement of the wild cat,” said divisional forest officer, Chandaka Wildlife Division, Siba Narayan Mohapatra. He said that though the place from where the wild cat has strayed in is yet to be ascertained, chances are there that it might have strayed either from Athagarh forest or Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

The forest officials have also left Pug Impression Pads in the area in the hope that the cat might return for water. The pads are made by preparing a layer of fine soil about 2cm thick on forest paths and animal tracks to collect footprints of tigers. These are also widely used in India to count tigers.

If the presence of the big cat is confirmed, this would be the first incident of the presence a tiger in the sanctuary area after 45 years. The last time a big cat was spotted in the sanctuary was in January 1967.