Suspense continues over missing tigress, officials say body parts found in Tadoba sent for analysis

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Chandrapur, Nov 21 (PTI) The forest authorities in Maharashtra's Chandrapur have found the body parts of a tiger in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) during a search operation, but said whether they belong to 'Maya', a popular tigress in the area who went missing in August this year, will be known only after analysis.

The forest officials made it clear that the gender of the striped feline whose body parts were recovered is yet to be established, and a sample of bones collected during the operation has been sent for an analysis to the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru.

Their clarification comes in the wake of reports in a section of media as well as social media that the deceased animal was T-12, popularly known as Maya, a dominant tigress in the area.

Maya went missing in August this year, following which 150 staff members of the TATR launched an intense monitoring operation to trace the tigress from October 7 with the help of camera traps and regular patrolling. The entire area of Tadoba and Kolara ranges, known to be her territory and movement area, was covered during this exercise, an official said.

T-12 was not found in the area. However, the forest team came across the scattered remains of a tiger under the Tadoba range of TATR on November 18, he said.

"It has been observed in media, including social media, that the information shared by the TATR office has been misinterpreted and it was assumed that the TATR authorities have declared about the death of tigress T-12. The TATR office has in no way implied the death of tigress T-12," field director of TATR Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar said.

Regular efforts of patrolling and camera trap set-ups are in place to monitor the location of T-12 in and around the TATR, he said.

"A sample of bones collected during patrolling exercise has been sent for further analysis to National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru. The results of the analysis in terms of species of animal and gender shall be shared as and when received from the NCBS, Bengaluru," Ramgaonkar said.

He also urged everyone not to speculate further on the issue and not to encourage any rumours in this regard, till the TATR office issues a release.

According to forest authorities, Maya was born in December 2010 to tigress Leela and tiger Hiltop. Since 2014, Maya gave birth to a total of 13 cubs in five litters. PTI COR NP