AHMEDABAD — The Gujarat Forest department has begun efforts to locate a tiger after a photo of it crossing a road in Lunawada taluka of Mahisagar district went viral on social media, a senior official said. While 18 Indian states are home to tigers, Gujarat isn’t one of them.
The efforts to locate the tiger began after a local government school teacher Mahesh Mahera Sunday claimed that he saw a tiger crossing a road near the Boriya village in Mahisagar, over 120 kilometres from Ahmedabad, on 6 February.
A photo that Mahera clicked on his phone and shared on sociale media went viral, alerting the state’s forest department on the unlikely presence of a tiger in the area.
Acting on Mahera’s claims, the forest department set up two camera traps and deployed staff to confirm the big cat’s presence, a senior official said.
The Times of India reported this tiger was spotted 27 years after a big cat was seen in Gujarat in 1992.
“The photo of the tiger has gone viral and we can’t yet say if it is fake. Since a citizen has claimed this, we have begun scanning the area. We have placed two camera traps and the number will be increased,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Akshay Saxena said.
“Our staff is trying to locate pug marks and scat (excreta). There is no evidence yet of the tiger in the area,” he added.
“Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are 100 kilometres away.
It is surprising if a big cat arrived here without anyone getting to know. We are trying to check and confirm what direct or indirect evidence there could be,” Saxena said.
Mahera claimed he spotted the tiger when he was returning from school on February 6 evening.
The Times of India report said that there have been many people who have claimed to have spotted tigers before, but turned out to be false alarms.
The report says that if there is indeed the presence of a tiger, authorities will have to look at efforts of conservation.
“Around 5:15 pm on 6 February, I was passing through the area in a four-wheeler when I spotted a tiger emerging from one side of the road and crossing over to the other side.
I stopped the car and I clicked its picture. It clearly shows it is a tiger,” he said.
As per the National Tiger Conservation Authority, tigers are found in the wild in 18 Indian states, Gujarat not being among them.
Neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are part of these 18 states, as per the NTCA website.
(With PTI inputs)