In a historic move, the Odisha Government declared on January 24th, 2024 its plans to establish the world’s first melanistic tiger safari, bringing attention to the unique biodiversity of the state. This groundbreaking project is set to be situated near Baripada, the district headquarters town of Mayurbhanj, on a sprawling 200-hectare area adjacent to National Highway-18.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took to social media to share the thrilling news, expressing joy over the establishment of an exclusive habitat for the rare melanistic tigers found only in Odisha. The chosen location, just 15 kilometers from the Similipal Tiger Reserve, underscores the state’s commitment to preserving the unique biodiversity of the region.
Susanta Nanda, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), revealed that the safari will not only serve as a visual spectacle for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts but also provide a home for surplus or unfit tigers from Nandankanan Zoo. The open enclosures will offer a close-up experience with these majestic creatures, fostering awareness about their conservation needs.
The safari’s strategic design allocates 100 hectares for the display area, ensuring a harmonious blend with the natural landscape. The remaining land will house essential facilities such as veterinary care centers, rescue facilities, staff infrastructure, and visitor amenities.
As the only habitat for melanistic tigers globally, the Similipal Tiger Reserve has been a focal point for conservation efforts. Cameras installed in Odisha’s forests have already captured glimpses of these rare creatures, emphasizing the urgency of protecting and preserving their natural habitat.
This ambitious project is not just a win for Odisha’s wildlife enthusiasts but also for the broader conversation on global conservation. By establishing the world’s first melanistic tiger safari, Odisha is setting a precedent for sustainable tourism and responsible wildlife management. As the safari takes shape, it is expected to attract visitors from around the world, contributing to the economy while raising awareness about the importance of protecting our planet’s most endangered species.