This wild cat will do anything for love.
A heartsick tiger traveled a whopping 800 miles in search of a soulmate and food, a five-month-long procreation pilgrimage that marks the longest walk ever recorded by a tiger in India, according to researchers.
The horny 3-year-old, dubbed C1 by scientists, embarked on his record-breaking journey at Tipeshwar wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra in June, reports The Independent. From there, he traveled nonlinearly through seven districts, over farms and highways, and even into a neighboring state, before arriving in the western Dnyanganga sanctuary.
By the end of C1’s epic love odyssey five months later, he had wandered an arduous 808 miles. Researchers were able to track his trek using GPS satellite information and a radio collar that had detailed his movements since February, recording him at more than 5,000 locations.
They weren’t stalking the lovesick tiger for their own amusement. The goal of the research was to “monitor the dispersal pattern of sub-adults which are normally in the process of exploring new areas to set up their territory,” according to Govekar Ravikiran, field director of Pench tiger reserve.
‘People don’t even know that this tiger is traveling in the backyard.’
The tiger was also possibly looking for “food and a mate,” Bilal Habib, a senior biologist with the Wildlife Institute of India, told the BBC. “Most of the potential tiger areas [in India] are full and new tigers have to explore more,” he added.
It’s unknown if C1 succeeded in “catcalling” a paramour. However, he did kill many pigs and cattle during his trek, which saw him hide during the day and travel undetected at night. “People don’t even know that this tiger is traveling in the backyard,” Habib says of C1’s stealthy stalking.
In fact, the only time the predator made human contact was when a group of men stumbled across him napping in a thicket. And while he indeed attacked the interlopers, only one was injured, according to Habib.
Despite wildlife officials calling the attack an “isolated avoidable incident,” C1 may need to be captured and relocated to avoid any interspecies mishaps in the future. They also might need to replace the cat’s tracker as the battery has been drained by 80%.
C1 will likely have plenty of competition for lady cats wherever he ends up. India’s tiger population has swelled to almost 3,000, making India a haven for the endangered animals. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modhi called the milestone a “historic achievement” for the country, whose big cat population had dwindled to 1,400 about 14 to 15 years ago.