Wildlife experts are calling it an unusual case, as Jai, the famed Tiger of Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary goes missing since April 2016. According to experts, adult attempt such migrations in order to find a new territory once their litters grow up. However, no traces of Jai whatsoever from almost 3 months have started to worry wildlife lovers as well as the forest department.
As per an expert “the reasons behind this long “disappearance” could be many: from finding a mate to finding new territory to being killed in a road accident, to being shot down by poachers.” Meanwhile the field director of the sanctuary believes Jai has not fallen to poachers. In a statement he said, “Jai is a huge animal. The sanctuary is only 190 sq km. But his territory spread over 550 sq km. That’s thrice the size of the sanctuary. I’m sure Jai has been pushed out of sanctuary by his seven cubs who are trying to find their own territory.”
It is said that Jai is a cattle eater and there would always be a report of him killing cattle, which would give forest department the where about this giant cat. However, this time, there have been no reports – direct or indirect – of any sightings. More worryingly, there have been no cattle kill. Jai was also radio collared; unfortunately his collar has been snagged; thus tracing it also impossible.
However, it is not the first time that Jai has been missing like this. In early 2013, he went missing from Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary and just when everyone had given up hope, he turned up at Umred. He had somehow walked through some of the busy and developed parts of Vidharbha, crossing two highways, one river and hundreds of villages. It was a 150kms trek that proved old forest corridor links existed between the two tiger sanctuaries. Since then Jai has remained an important member of Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary. He has also mated with several females and fathered 7 children that are in sub-adult state now. This time around as well, forest department and wildlife enthusiast are hoping the same that they would soon hear of Jai, taking up a new territory and mating with a new female in some other sanctuary.
Right now, over 150 volunteers are out looking for Jai and a Nagpur-based wildlife group has held prayers for his health and safety. Jai-fans from 10 NGO, photographers, independent volunteers and guides have also come together to launch one of the biggest tiger search operations in India. Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (CLaW), an independent group of wildlife lovers and photographers, has also announced a sum of Rs 50,000 reward for anyone giving information that leads to confirmation of Jai’s presence. We also hope and pray that wherever Jai is right now, he is in best of health and enjoying his wealth of new territory and the company of a new female tiger.
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