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Odisha to establish world's first Melanistic Tiger Safari near Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbanj

Bhubaneshwar: The Government of Odisha is set to establish the world's first melanistic tiger safari near Baripada in the Mayurbhanj district, forest department officials said on Wednesday. As per the officials, a sprawling 200-hectare area adjacent to NH-18 has been earmarked for this unique project, with 100 hectares dedicated to the display area and the remaining space allocated for veterinary care facilities, a rescue centre, staff infrastructure, and visitor amenities. The chosen site, situated approximately 15 km from the Similipal Tiger Reserve, mirrors the reserve's landscape and is renowned as the sole natural habitat for melanistic tigers worldwide.
The establishment of the safari aims to house surplus tigers from Nandankanan Zoo as well as rescued or orphaned tigers unfit for the wild but suitable for public display in an open enclosure. As per the last All India Tiger Estimation Report, published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2018, melanistic tigers have been found in the wild only in Similipal Tiger Reserve. According to the forest department of Odisha, this visionary project is anticipated to boost wildlife tourism in Odisha, showcasing the state's commitment to preserving and displaying its unique biodiversity. By providing a platform for conservationists, researchers, enthusiasts, and the public to witness these majestic creatures up close, the safari seeks to raise awareness about the conservation needs of melanistic tigers, as per the officials. The strategic location of the site, adjacent to the National Highway and near Baripada town, is expected to attract a significant number of visitors. Additionally, the safari will serve as an added attraction for tourists visiting the Similipal Tiger Reserve. The state government's proposal for this initiative has received "in principle" approval from the Technical Committee of the NTCA. A committee, to be formed by NTCA, will conduct a feasibility study at the site before granting final approval. Further statutory clearances, including approval from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), are expected to follow, the officials said.  

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