Post monsoon, search renewed for missing Jai

Updated: Sep 28, 2016, 18:45 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Massive search over 3 days this week halted for Wildlife Week that begins from October 1, but will be renewed post that

Jai has been missing since April this year
Jai has been missing since April this year

The search for Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary’s star attraction – Jai, the tiger – has been renewed with the monsoon definitely on its way out. A massive search was launched on September 26, 27 and 28. The search will be halted today as preparations for wildlife week – that begins from October 1 – have to be made. Forest officials said the search would be renewed after that.

"We have not given up hope of finding Jai. After the Wildlife Week is over, we will renew our search in the area,” said a forest official on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, a search party of more than 500 people, including forest department staff, territorial forest department staff, Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra and an official from the Assistant Principal Chief Conservator of Forest office, headed out on a three-day operation. Honorary Wildlife Warden of Nagpur Rohit Karoo said that the operation would continue until tonight.

The search for Jai had hit a roadblock during the monsoon, as forest patches outside the sanctuary had become inaccessible. Now, that the rains have stopped, authorities have begun their search operation once again, and will be covering over 600 sq km of ground area.

'Scientists not to blame'
Wildlife enthusiasts, however, have continued to blame scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India for failing to monitor the movements of Jai, who went missing in April this year. State forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has now come out in support of the scientists. Speaking to mid-day, Mungantiwar said that the scientists had given him a detailed presentation about Jai’s movement pattern after it was radio-collared early in March. “It would be wrong to say that the scientists were not monitoring Jai’s activity,” said Mungatiwar. “In fact, WII scientist Dr Bilal Habib had given me a detailed presentation about the tiger’s daily, weekly and monthly activity. Our staff and forest department officials are also doing their best to trace Jai.”

Mungatiwar further said it was likely that Jai had travelled to some other forest as the number of male tigers at the Nagpur sanctuary had increased over the last few years. “In such a case, the older tigers are usually pushed out of their territory by the younger males. It’s possible that this might have happened with Jai too. All tigers are important to us and we are working towards the conservation of the entire species.”

Dr Habib also defended his team. “People who don’t know anything about monitoring tigers are accusing us of not doing our job well. We have data to support our claim,” he said.

The story so far

2010: Jai born to a tigress at Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary near Nagpur

Sept 2013: Jai travels more than 100 km and reaches UKWS

Sept 2015: Jai is radio-collared for the first time, but collar develops a snag a few months later 

March 17, 2016: He is fitted with a new collar

April 18: Jai goes missing

July 12, 2016: A sarpanch from Bhandara claims to have spotted a huge, radio-collared tiger

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