There is a new tiger in Jai's territory

Updated: Sep 17, 2016, 15:00 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

2.5 to 3-year-old tiger roars into Jai’s stomping ground as wildlife lovers question scientists' claims on why he hasn’t been pushed out

Jai, UKWS' star attraction has gone missing since April this year, a month after he was radio-collared. File Pic
Jai, UKWS' star attraction has gone missing since April this year, a month after he was radio-collared. File Pic

While Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary's (UKWS) star attraction Jai is still off the radar of authorities, a new tiger has been seen roaming his territory. A group of wildlife photographers have photographed the new tiger, who is smaller than Jai. They are now questioning the FD about why this male has not been pushed out of UKWS by the seven tigers who allegedly removed Jai from the sanctuary.

The new male tiger is around 2.5 to 3-years-old and has come from the south Umred territorial zone, located at a distance of 25-30 km from the area where Jai used to roam. According to an FD official, the total territory where Jai used to roam was UKWS and Brahmapuri division, which is more than 180 square kilometres. Rakesh Guddu, a wildlife photographer spotted the new male tiger in UKWS more than a week back and clicked his photos. The images include flank shots of the tiger's right and left body and the same has been shared with FD.

Riddle for scientists
Speaking to mid-day, Sarosh Lodhi, wildlife photographer and founder of Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (ClaW) said, "One of the most important reasons given by scientists about Jai's disappearance is that he might have been pushed out of his territory by other young males from UKWS. But now it has been observed that there is a new male tiger currently roaming Jai's territory who surprisingly has not yet been pushed out by the male tigers who allegedly removed Jai. The scientists monitoring Jai should now also give a reason why the new male has not been pushed out."

A wildlife photographer spotted the new male tiger in UKWS more than a week back and clicked his photos. These have also been shared with the Forest Department. Pics/Rakesh Guddu
A wildlife photographer spotted the new male tiger in UKWS more than a week back and clicked his photos. These have also been shared with the Forest Department. Pics/Rakesh Guddu

Scientists from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Forest Department officials have been claiming that one of the most important reasons behind the absence of Jai from UKWS might be that the seven male tigers in UKWS pushed him out.

FD, WII hiding their faults
Scoffing at the claims, a wildlife lover said, "The forest department and especially the WII scientists have not done proper monitoring of Jai or else we would have known his whereabouts. In order to hide their shortcoming and fault they are giving a bizarre reason of Jai being pushed out of UKWS by seven other male tigers. If the same had been true then the seven males would not have allowed the new male tiger to roam in UKWS. But the new tiger, which is much smaller to Jai, is moving in his territory without facing any challenge from the other tigers."

In a July 26 story, mid-day had reported some wildlife conservationists saying the big cat's disappearance is not necessarily a wildlife tragedy but a sign that tiger conservation is now a roaring success. ('No sign of Jai yet, but there are plenty of other tigers') According to them, Jai may have moved out of UKWS because there are now several male tigers, fighting for limited territory there.

Scientist says
Scientist Dr Bilal Habib from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) who had radio-collared Jai said, "Yes, it is true that one new male has been spotted roaming UKWS. The tiger has come from south Umred. Usually, tigers travel across the landscape in the monsoon, so it would be difficult to say whether the new tiger will be able to establish its territory in UKWS as there are also chances that it might be pushed out by other seven males."

21km
Expanse of the area where Jai used to roam 

Pace of search slows down
Some wildlife photographers and conservationists are of the opinion that the decision to radio-collar Jai was wrong, as it was only after this that the star of UKWS started avoiding tourists.

Commenting on the search operation for him, a forest department official from Nagpur said, "Officially, the search operation has not been called off, but yes the pace of the work has decreased a bit. People criticizing us should understand that we have taken the best possible efforts to find the animal and our teams are still doing it."

About Jai

2010: Two male tigers Jai and Viru were born to a female tigress known as Mai at Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary near Nagpur. Viru went missing and the authorities fear that he might have been poached.

2013: Jai travelled more than 100 km and reached UKWS in September and since then, it has been known as the king of UKWS as it was the most powerful and dominant male. Till now Jai has sired more than 20 cubs in UKWS.

2015: In September 2015, Jai was radio collared for the first time but according to FD officials, the collar developed a problem in January.

2016: On March 17, a new collar was fitted and from April 18, 2016, Jai went missing.

July: An ex-sarpanch from Bhandara had claimed to have spotted a huge, radio-collared tiger on July 12.

August: Two shepherds, who had brought their animals for grazing in the Bhandara region told FD officials that on Tuesday they saw a huge tiger with a radio collar around its neck.

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