Bhubaneswar: A wild male tiger, which strayed into the Nandankanan Zoo here, has put the Odisha government in a spot with locals demanding that it should be kept in the zoo, an idea which has been opposed by the wildlife activists.

As wildlife activists sought release of the big cat in the wild describing its captivity as illegal, people living near the zoo and adjoining areas launched a signature campaign against the release of the tiger, fearing it may cause harm.

"We have apprehensions that the tiger will return and create problems for us," Balaram Lenka, a local resident said.

The signature campaign has been launched by "Nandan Kanan Suraksha Parishad" headed by Bijoy Patra. An advocate by profession, Patra filed a PIL in Orissa High Court to oppose against any move to release the tiger.

Lenka said though the six-year old healthy Royal Bengal Tiger had not attacked any human being or cow in the area, pugmarks were detected for three years creating panic among people.

"Fortunately, the tiger has been trapped due to its own fault. Its release may create problems in future," the residents of Baranga and Dadha villages said. However, wildlife activists opposed any move to keep the tiger in captivity claiming it would violate the law of the land.
    
"We wish to lodge a strong protest about attempts of the state government to retain the tiger in zoo to bolster its tiger gene pool for captive breeding," said Biswajit Mohanty, a member of the National Board for Wildlife.

In a letter to the Additional PCCF & Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Mohanty said: "It is a blatant violation of wildlife laws as well as the SOP (standard operating procedure) issued by NTCA."

A perfectly healthy male tiger which has obviously strayed from Satkosia Tiger Reserve, the nearest known tiger habitat, is now doomed for life, he pointed out, adding that captivity of the tiger in zoo would amount to clear violation of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

(Agencies)

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