Finding Jai: New sighting in Telangana renews hunt for legendary tiger

Hindustan Times | ByPradip Kumar Maitra
Dec 28, 2016 12:21 AM IST

The Maharashtra government has sought a video footage from Telangana to confirm if a tiger sighted in forests of Adilabad was indeed the legendary Jai who went missing from a wildlife sanctuary near Nagpur in April.

Jai went missing tiger from Nagpur forest in April.(File Photo)
Jai went missing tiger from Nagpur forest in April.(File Photo)

Maharashtra forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar rang up his Telangana counterpart Jogu Ramanna Monday night and sought details about the big cat. Mungantiwar also decided to send a team of forest officials to the area to verify the existence of the big cat.

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“Some local news channels in Telangana have reported that Jai has been spotted in a forest area there. We have thus sought help from the Telangana government, to send us a video of the tiger that has been seen there,” Mungantiwar told HT.

“Once they send us the video footage, our officials will verify if it is indeed the same tiger on which we had put an electronic collar. Once certain, our officials will go there and bring the tiger back,” he said.

Jai, who fathered 20 cubs, provided the much-needed thrust to tourism in the area as it was a star attraction for visitors.

The iconic tiger migrated to the Umred Karhandla sanctuary near Nagpur from the Nagzira Navegaon tiger reserve in Gondia-Bhandara district in September 2013 during a 150-km prowl in his quest for a mate. The big cat was radio-collared by wildlife expert Bilal Habib in 2015, but the link failed months before he went missing.

Read | Tiger conservationist Thapar criticises radio collaring of missing tiger Jai

Massive search operations were launched to locate Jai in the forests of Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia and Chandrapur in eastern Vidarbha — but in vain.

According to available information, a new tiger was spotted in the forest areas of Adilabad division in Telangana a few days ago, and its looks is very similar to Jai.

Jai’s disappearance even figured in the Lok Sabha and BJP member Nana Padole had demanded a CBI probe. The government then instituted an SIT inquiry to probe into the matter. Members of SIT even visited the area recently and had been to Umred for a comprehensive enquiry about the tiger.

Shree Bhagwan, Maharashtra’s chief wildlife warden said he had a talk with the forest chief of Telangana and the chief state wildlife warden on Tuesday.

“We are sending camera trap with the help of world wide fund for nature (WWF) and these would be installed in those areas to ascertain the movement of the tiger. We also requested the Telangana forest officials that they should send the pugmarks of the tiger so that we can verify it from our end,” Bhagwan said.

Jai was named after actor Amitabh Bachchan’s character in the 1975 Bollywood blockbuster Sholay.

Read | Jai, tiger from Umred forest near Nagpur, may have been poached

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