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Chandaka staff on tiger alert

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 29: Officials of the Chandaka-Dampada Sanctuary are on high alert after pugmarks of a tigress and its cub were found at its various parts.

The forest officials deployed at the sanctuary to keep a tab on the movement of elephants have been asked to keep a vigil on the movement of the possible wild cat.

“All the forest officials have been asked to report immediately if they notice the tigress and its cub.

“Though there has been no reports of the movement of the tigress in the last 24 hours, we think the tigress might be roaming in the forest,” said divisional forest officer of Chandaka S.N. Mohapatra.

The footprints were reported from Talabasta on December 24 and near Banra the next day. The pugmarks were also reported from Deras and Pithakhia on December 26. The last footmarks were reported on December 27 from Khiragadia, a water body in the sanctuary.

However, since then no reports of movement of the wildcat have come to the fore.

“From the stride of the pugmarks, it looks like that the footprints are of a wild tigress and its cub.

“We have collected the footprints and are keeping a tab on their movement,” said Mohapatra.

People living near the sanctuary are in a state of panic because of the reports of the presence of a tigress and its cub.

“We are not venturing outside our homes after evening. Though we have come across elephants earlier, this is the first incident of the presence of a tiger in the sanctuary limits,” said Bapi Ranjan Das, a resident of Gadeikuda village.

The forest officials, however, said that the big cat might have ventured into the sanctuary from the Satakosia tiger reserve.

The last time when a big cat was spotted in the sanctuary was in January 1967.

But the forest officials advised the villagers not to panic as the wild cats never attack anyone without provocation.

“This is a natural habitat for the wildcats. They are supposed to get their prey from the forest. Unless any human provokes the animal, they are not likely to attack the human,” said a senior forest official.