A huge search operation has been launched in India to find the country’s most famous tiger who has not been seen for three months.
Seven-year-old tiger Jai first won the hearts of millions on the sub-continent three years ago when he went on an epic trek to find a mate and since then his fame has only grown bigger.
However, Jai has not been seen for three months, after launching on a yet another search for a mate.
Jai has not been seen for three months, prompting a huge search and the offer of a 50,000 rupee reward ahead of World Tiger Day on Friday.
Jai is considered to be India’s biggest tiger.
Here are the highlights:
Maharashtra’s state government, in western India, has offered a 50,000 rupee ($745) reward to locate the tiger and hundreds have joined in the search.
Rangers at the Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, where Jai lives, reported that they first become worried about the big cat when his electronic collar stopped transmitting his location three months ago, while tourist sightings of the big cat also stopped.
Rohit Karoo, a conversationalist who is helping to coordinate the hunt, said:
He’s successfully fathered more than 20 cubs and has boosted the local economy by attracting wildlife enthusiasts.
Losing such a majestic tiger would be a great loss for India.
There have been speculations that Jai may have been wounded in a fight with another tiger or poached by hunters, but Karoo remains optimistic:
I don’t think anything bad has befallen him as he is a dominant male tiger with the capacity to travel large distances.
Jai has gone missing before — in early 2013 his disappearance prompted fears about his safety.
But just as rescuers were starting to give up hope of seeing him again, Jai turned up 90 miles away.
The tiger had somehow managed to pass unnoticed through some of the most crowded, developed parts of Vidharbha, crossed two highways, one river and hundreds of villages.
Speaking of the current search, Karoo said:
Around 10 non-governmental organizations, locals from nearly four hundred villages and forest officials are patrolling the forests in Maharashtra to locate Jai.
Rumors abound about what has happened to Jai, with pessimists speculating that he may have been wounded in a fight with another tiger or poached by hunters.
Tiger expert and field director of the sanctuary M. S. Reddy said:
Whether he has moved to forest interiors or is with a new mate, no information is available as of yet.
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.
India’s tiger population numbers some 2,200 of the big cats, about 70 percent of the world’s endangered tiger population.
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