Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday expressed hope to soon trace Jai, the iconic tiger that has been missing since April 19.
Speaking at an International Tiger Day event in Nagpur on Friday, CM Fadnavis said, “We are hopeful and confident this time also the missing tiger will soon be tracked and traced.”
Jai, the seven-year-old tiger went missing from Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary near Nagpur on April 19. The forest department launched a massive search operation, which hit a roadblock due to incessant rainfall in the region in the last one week.
Jai likes to roam in the jungle and frequently changes his location, he said. “We are happy that the missing of tiger has created awareness about the wild animal among people from all walks of life and they have evinced interest in the entire missing episode, the chief minister added.
The principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife), Shree Bhagwan, who is also the state wildlife warden, has directed all the chief conservators of forests (CCFs) in the region to seek help from volunteers of various NGOs working for wildlife conservation, to trace the missing tiger.
The Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (CLaW), an independent group of wildlife lovers and photographers, has announced a cash prize of Rs 50,000 for anyone who can help find Jai, provide physical evidence and credible information about his whereabouts. CLaW thinks the incentive will encourage people to come forward with information.
Named after Amitabh Bachchan’s character in the movie Sholay, Jai travelled over 150km from Nagzira-Navegaon tiger reserve in Gondia-Bhandara district to the Umred forest, crossing several villages and even the Mumbai-Kolkata national highway, in September, 2013.
Dr Bilal Habib, a expert of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), who fitted radio-collar on Jai last year, said the beast may have passed under high-tension transmission lines, which has damaged its radio collar. So the authorities are not able to track its location and other details.
The possibility of Jai succumbed to the dangerous radio waves is not completely ignored. A Sundarban tigress in West Bengal was found dead last year because of infection caused by her radio collar. Similarly, two big cats were found dead in Bangladesh due to use of radio collars recently, pointed out a wildlife conservationist, Mohan Kothekar.