Mumbai: Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has demanded CBI probe into the mysterious disappearance of tiger Jai. Mungantiwar told that he will be writing to the PM demanding the CBI to trace the big cat that has gone missing since June.
Rescuers, wildlife experts and volunteers have been scouring the forest, trying to locate the 250kg tiger, who was last spotted on April 18. “I would soon write to Prime Minister demanding an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the missing big cat, ” He added.
Meanwhile, BJP Lok Sabha MP from Bhandara-Gondia, Nana Patole, also said that he would seek PM’s intervention into the matter. Patole expressed apprehension that Jai might have fallen prey to poachers as there has been no trace of it since the past four months.
“Along with Jai, his grandfather Rashtrapati, his father Dendu and sibling Viru have also gone missing. Jai’s disappearance has become such a hot topic of debate that even chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said in July that he felt that Jai was alive,” the MP said.
According to Patole, Jai was radio-collared, but of late his radio collar had stopped working. He added that two people were arrested on suspicion of poaching, further fuelling fears. Meanwhile, sources in the forest department said that a wide search for Jai is on covering the forest area between Bor in Wardha district, Bramhapuri in Chandrapur district and New Nagzira Navegaon Tiger Reserve (NNTR).
Named after Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s character in the hit 1975 film Sholay, Jai was in limelight three years ago after embarking on an epic hike through villages, rivers and perilously dangerous highways in successful pursuit of a mate. Jai has been a favourite with tourists and conservationists alike.
Wildlife officials have launched a search operation for the royal feline. So far, there is no substantial clue about the whereabouts of the tiger, whose electronic collar stopped transmitting his location in April. The tiger population of Maharashtra, which was 169 in 2010, has gone up to 190 in 2015. Out of this 70-odd tigers are accounted for in Tadoba tiger reserve. The state government has offered a reward of Rs 50,000 for information on Jai’s location. Some people residing close to the Umred Karhandla sanctuary have also performed a pooja for his safety.
Jai’s disappearance since for over four months has come as a huge setback for the state. Maharashtra had roped in Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador for its tiger conservation initiative.