This Article is From Jul 26, 2016

Jai, Stunning 250 Kg Tiger, Missing For 99 Days

Jai, the 250 kg tiger, is named after Amitabh Bachchan's character in the super hit film Sholay.

Nagpur: He is missing for 99 days and still there is no trace of Jai, the stunning seven-year-old tiger, who moved out from Maharashtra's Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary in April.

Maharashtra's forest department says five teams have been pressed in service to search for Jai, the 250 kg tiger named after Amitabh Bachchan's character in the super hit film Sholay.

However, the field director of the sanctuary believes Jai has not fallen to poachers.

"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," field director of the sanctuary, MS Reddy told NDTV in Nagpur.

"I don't think he has been poached. Fingers crossed," he added.

Importantly, Mr Reddy revealed the sarpanch of Pauni village in the neighbouring district of Bhandara, spotted Jai sitting in the middle of the road. However, he adds, it's a claim that needs to be scientifically confirmed on the ground by matching paw prints of the giant tiger.

Experts say 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. No one knows what's really happened to Jai.

Meanwhile, helping in the unprecedented search are 150 fans of the mighty tiger - all wildlife enthusiasts and citizens - from 10 NGOs who have scanned 450 villages to find clues of his movements.

Rohit Kaproo, an honorary warden of the sanctuary has been on the tiger trail for days and he believes forest officials are partially to blame. "Forest officials failed as they were only monitoring Jai on the computer. But they had no researchers on the ground. Plus the radio collar failed twice," Mr Kaproo pointed out.

He also rubbished claims of the forest department that Jai has been pushed out by his cubs, insisting the tiger was still in the prime years of dominance while his cubs were way smaller.

The hope: Jai is alive and unharmed.

But it is unlikely he will be found before July 29th when India will celebrate the International Tiger Day.