AHMEDABAD: Twenty-seven years after the tiger was last sighted along the Dang border in Gujarat in 1992, a government teacher has reported seeing the big cat, kicking off a discourse that the animal has finally returned to the state.
The teacher, Mahesh Mahera, who spotted the tiger crossing a road into the wilderness of Boriya village in Lunawada taluka in Mahisagar district, also captured the big cat in his mobile phone.
The pictures clicked from inside his car on February 6, went viral roaring across mobile networks of the state forest department on Saturday, which has set up camera traps in the vicinity of Boriya village to get more evidence of the tiger’s presence.
“While returning home from school in the evening, I was shocked to see a tiger just 40 feet away from my car. As locals have been talking about tiger’s presence in the area, I immediately clicked its pictures from inside my vehicle,” said Mahera who teaches in Guliya primary school in the same area.
Mahera confessed to having shared the tiger’s pictures with his friends who alerted the forest officials. On Saturday, the picture landed on the mobile of principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) Akshay Saxena who has ordered an intensive search operation to confirm the animal’s presence. He has also asked the officials to check the authenticity of pictures.
“We are looking for scat (tiger feces), pug marks, big animals killed. Three camera traps have been mounted and more will be placed soon to capture visual evidence of tiger,” said Saxena. The PCCF said if the tiger’s presence is confirmed in Gujarat, the department will have to go back to drawing board to redesign the wildlife conservation programme for Big Cats.
Tiger sighting so far was crying wolf
The development comes after a series of claims of the tiger being sighted sans any corroborative evidence prompting naysayers to dismiss it as a case of ‘wagh aayo re wagh aayo’, a Gujarati proverb for cry wolf.
Last time, the tiger had hit headlines in the state when the direct sighting of tiger has reported a tiger in July last year about 15 km away from state’s Nijhar village in Tapi district. The big cat attacked Dinsingh Kokani, 38, while it was trying to escape curious onlookers in Nandurbar’s Nimgaon village.
Off late, sporadic reports have kept surfacing of locals in Lunawada, roughly 130 km away from Ahmedabad, claiming to have sighted a tiger.
Mahisagar deputy conservator of forest RM Parmar said, “Locals have reported kill of four goats and an ox in Verana and Santrampur areas of Lunawada a fortnight back. We will verify all claims.