The forest department will launch a fresh combing operation on foot in all forest areas of the Vidarbha region from September 26 to 28 for Jai, the tiger that went missing from Umred-Karhandla wildlife sanctuary near Nagpur on April 18.
There has been no trace of missing tiger despite the hunt for the last four months. Its disappearance has fuelled speculations in certain quarters and has added to the forest department’s worries.
The additional principal chief conservator of forests –(Wildlife), Dr N Rambabu, instructed all field directors of Pench Tiger Reserve, Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, Melghat Tiger Reserve, Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve; all chief conservators of forest and all general managers of the forest development corporation of Maharashtra in the region, to conduct massive foot patrolling in their territories.
While issuing a formal notification in this regard, Rambabu also instructed them to include NGOs, honorary wildlife wardens and the locals to strengthen the search operation for Jai.
Rambabu said that all assistant conservators of their respective areas should supervise the search operation and submit the report by September 30 to their concerned deputy conservators of forest. He has asked for the final report by October 2.
The issue has now reached the the national capital. Maharashtra forest minister Sudhir Munganttiwar has already briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Jai’s disappearance and has sought a CBI probe. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has entrusted CID with the case and in the last four months, Jai has become the hottest topic in forest circles.
Hugely popular, Jai has been credited with boosting tourism and helping in increasing the tiger population in the region. The big cat was radio-collared by wildlife expert Bilal Habib last year, but the link failed in a few months.
Jai, named after actor Amitabh Bachchan’s character in the 1975 Hindi blockbuster Sholay, migrated into the Umred-Karhandla sanctuary, walking 150km from the Nagzira-Navegaon tiger reserve of Gondia-Bhandara district in September 2013. It went on to father more than 20 cubs.