India is tiger country, but the western Indian state of Gujarat is one province ruled solely by lions — until now.
A tiger has been spotted in Gujarat, home to the Asiatic lions, after 27 years. That’s thanks to a chance sighting by a school teacher in Lunawada zone.
The teacher, Mahesh Mahera, kept his cool and captured what he saw with his phone camera, according to a report by the Times of India newspaper. Here’s what he saw:
photo grab credit: Times of India
This discovery sent the Gujarat forest department into, well, a search. They have currently found hair and claw marks on a tree bark in the vicinity of where it was sighted, lending further credence to the claim that tigers have indeed returned to the state after 27 years.
Forest officials stated that since Saturday evening when the first information of tiger presence backed by photographic evidence was obtained, they launched an aggressive drive to corroborate the information. Besides pug marks and scat of big cats, the officials have now found at least six hairs that have been sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology research laboratory in Hyderabad and a wildlife institute.
Camera traps set up since the original sighting in January have failed to yield any new evidence.
A forest official said that a lone tiger which was observed in Jhabua in January 2018 could have entered Gujarat and kills made by it could have been misconstrued as that by a leopard.