The Satkosia Gorge along the river Mahanadi, passes through Angul, Boudh, Cuttack and Nayagarh districts in central Orissa and is the natural habitat for the two endangered fresh water crocodilian species, the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and Mugger (Crocodylus palustris). In order to protect the dwindling crocodile population, the Forest Department of the Government of Orissa with technical support from the UNDP and FAO decided to start a breeding programme of crocodiles during March 1974. As a part of this joint conservation initiative, the Gharial Research and Conservation Unit (GRACU)
was started during March 1975. The GRACU had done pioneering work in crocodile conservation in India. The activities include Conservation Breeding; releasing of reared crocodiles into the wild and its rehabilitation had been some of the challenging activities carried out by the centre.
Thereafter in 1976 due to the immense biodiversity values, the dense forest lands on both sides of the river Mahanadi along the gorge was declared as the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary. Subsequently the two adjoining sanctuaries namely the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary and Baisipalli sanctuary were combinly and declared as Satkosia Tiger Reserve during December, 2007.
Core area of the Tiger Reserve lies within Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary. The reserve is spread over 4 districts; Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh. The tiger reserve has an area of 964 sq km with 524 sq km as core area.