Most famous and photographed tigress of Tadoba Andhari Reserve, Maya | Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

India’s most famous and photographed tigress, Maya, is feared dead. Maya (also known as T-12), famously known as the ‘Queen of Tadoba,’ was a resident of the Pandharpauni core region of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district. As per the Maharashtra Forest Department’s preliminary findings, Maya died of natural causes.

About Maya 

In December 2010, cub Maya was born to tigress Leela and a Hilltop Tiger tiger. Maya gave birth five times, in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020, and 2022, totalling 13 cubs. Since 2014, Maya tigress has been regularly documented in systematic camera trap exercises, with the most recent capture during the Phase IV exercise in March-May 2023.

Maya was last spotted in August

In August, while patrolling in the Panchdhara area near Tadoba Lake, TATR staff spotted Maya for the last time. Dr Jitendra Ramgaokar, Chief Conservator of Forests and TATR Field Director, launched a foot patrol and search operation to locate Maya. According to MFD, “On November 18, 2023, search teams in Tadoba beat compartment number 82 of Tadoba range and found the remains of a tiger. The skeleton of the tiger was scattered over a radius of around 100 yards. The wildlife veterinarian and biologist meticulously collected all of the remains, and samples were taken for DNA analysis for additional examination.”

“The wildlife veterinarian said that the remains were in an extremely advanced state of decomposition and were not suitable for additional postmortem investigation. Also, based on the location of the remains and the lack of human activity in the region, the tiger appears to have died of natural causes,” MFD added. 

Tigress remains sent to NCBS

The remains samples were transferred to the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru for DNA analysis. The reports are expected to come by November 30. The whole Tadoba and Kolara ranges, known to be her territory and movement region, were searched during the search operation. 

Since October 8, 2023, ten different tigers (six females and seven males) have been captured in her region, including T-07, T-114, T-115, T-158, T-16, T-120, T-138, T-164, T-168, T-181 and T-100. However, Maya T-12 was not spotted in the region, raising the probability of her absence. Finally, an extensive foot patrolling cum combing operation was carried out from 16 to November 18, with the assistance of all TATR core area frontline staff, which found the remains.

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