Bhubaneswar, Jan. 15: A big cat is growling somewhere near Nandankanan Zoological Park.
The presence of pug marks of what could be a tigress and its cub outside the Nandankanan zoo has again raised the suspicion of tiger movement in the Chandaka sanctuary since last month.
On December 25 last year, Chandaka forest officials collected footprints of the big cats from an abandoned mine in the sanctuary.
Since then, a number of footprints of the tigress and its cub have been found in various places, including the latest in two locations near the zoo.
Claims of Barendra Swain, a member of an anti-depredation squad, and two bus drivers of having seen the animals have added to the possibilities of their presence in Chandaka.
While the forest officials are keeping a tab on the wild cats’ movement, experts believe that they might have ventured into the Chandaka sanctuary from the Satkosia Tiger Reserve.
“They may have come from the Satkosia Tiger Reserve through Sukasana, a reserve forest in the Athagada forest division as the Mahanadi flowing there does not have strong currents or deep water,” said a retired forest officer.
In October, a male tiger was spotted in the Athagada forest division.
“We found around 100 pug marks of a male tiger in various places and our officials even sighted the animal. The tiger had come from Satkosia,” said divisional forest officer of Athagada Arun Kumar Mishra.
Retired senior research officer L.A. Singh said the tigress might have ventured into Chandaka for having its own territory.
“It might be possible that the tigress would have faced some problem in its old habitat, and as a result, it could have come to Chandaka in search of prey or its own territory,” said Singh.
The last time when a big cat was spotted in the sanctuary was January 1967. At that time, the tiger had entered the zoo and was kept there later.
The tiger called Kanan went on to actively take part in reproduction of tigers in the zoo.
Sources said that for a long time now, the Chandaka sanctuary had not witnessed the presence of tigers.
“Leopards used to be present in the sanctuary earlier. But since 2004 there have been no reports of their presence ,” said a senior forest officer.
A zoo official said no movement of the tigress and its cub was detected today.
“The tiger might have gone back to the forest. But we have still asked our officials to stay alert,” said deputy director of the zoo C.R. Mishra.
However, he asked visitors not to panic.