Satkosia Tiger Reserve: Tigers Depart, Leopards Return, Can Balance Be Attained?

Satkosia Tiger Reserve is a 963 square kilometer tiger reserve in Odisha India that currently has no tigers. Which appears to be fine with local leopards as they have reappeared in the park and seem to be increasing in number.

As we have reported, India’s “tiger centric” conservation policy has been very successful as the country may have greatly increased its tiger population. But at what cost?

focus photography of black and brown leopard sitting
Leopards and tigers overlap in prey interest. But leopards have to have trees and other safe spots from tigers. Photo by Pixabay on

Critics are beginning to suggest that the efforts made to increase tiger populations may actually hurt other endangered animals in India, and Satkosia may give a clue as to what is happening and why,

The land was set aside in 1976 as a wildlife preserve. When India became very serious about tiger preservation in 2007 it became a tiger reserve. It sits along the gorge of the Mahanadi River. India uses such sites both to preserve wildlife and attract tourists. Tourist facilities can be found near the reserves.

tiger above green grass during day time
Tigerst tend to eat bigger prey than leopards, but the two species overlap in eating habits and therefore compete.Photo by Pixabay on

Website TheWireScience quoted wildlife officials:

“In the absence of tigers, competition for prey and territory reduces for leopards, and they thrive,” Aditya Panda, a conservationist and the honorary wildlife warden of Angul district, told The Wire Science. “In the case of Satkosia, the tiger has been functionally extinct for several years now.”s”

Tiger and leopard populations dropped drastically between 2000 and 2015. A tiger reintroduction in 2018 failed.

Panda said the decline was a result of poor protection for the animals, bad park management and uncontrolled poaching. He said the increase in local leopard population is a sign that these problems no longer persist.

brown wild boar on dirt ground at daytime
Wild pig can be on the menu for both tiger and leopard and competition for food can be fierce.Photo by Pixabay on

“These issues have been addressed over the past five years. As a result, improvement in protection, habitat quality and prey base is being seen, causing a visible revival of leopards in the reserve,” Panda said. “Unfortunately, these corrective measures were too late to save the local tiger population, which fell below viable numbers by 2010.” Another reintroduction attempt is in the offing and he predicted greater success.

Another issue is the “tiger centric” approach. Indian officials had believed that what is good for tigers is good for leopards and other creatures too. But landscaping preserves to benefit tigers does not appear to help other creatures. Meanwhile, another theory is emerging: Helping tigers and leopards actually begins with a “pepole centric approach.”

Conservationists must balance competing interests. It was thought that tiger habitat was suitable for all other animals. Now it is understood that leopards, for example, prefer a different landscape. Now the new idea is that the needs and interests of people must be considered in order to get assistance with conservation goals.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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