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Seven-year-old tiger Jai goes missing from Umred Karhandla: Over 100 on the lookout

The king has abdicated his throne and has gone missing.

And over 100 people are hard at work in trying to locate him.

Seven-year-old Jai, the beloved monarch who has ruled Nagpur's Umred Karhandla wildlife sanctuary ever since he arrived there in 2013, is nowhere to be found. Rescuers, wildlife experts and volunteers are all scouring the forest, trying to locate the 250-kilogram giant tiger, who was last seen in April, over three months ago. And though he has gone missing in the past too, such a long a sustained period without any sighting of a tiger that was radio-collared is distressing news.

 Seven-year-old tiger Jai goes missing from Umred Karhandla: Over 100 on the lookout

Representational image. Reuters

The rescuers have expanded their search to include about 350 villages, reported The Indian Express, from Bor in Wardha district to Chandrapur's Brahmapuri to the New Nagzira Navegaon Tiger Reserve (NNTR), from where Jai had come to Umred in 2013. "We are mapping the whole area. We will form teams of two volunteers each that will take a local with them during the search. We plan to begin the search in two days," Roheet Karoo, honorary wildlife warden of Nagpur district, said.

Jai is the undisputed king of the Umred Karhandla forest, having mated with virtually all the females there and fathered several cubs in the entire trail leading upto Brahmapuri. However, age is no more on his side and younger tigers, aged between two and three years of age, might have pushed him away. Indeed, the Umred Karhandla sanctuary has around seven fully grown male tigers, meaning a seven-year-old Jai might have to explore newer areas.

"There is every possibility that Jai may have moved in search of new territory. It must have become logical for Jai not to challenge the younger males. This may be one of the reasons for his absence," Bilal Habib, a scientist from the Wildlife Institute of India, who had collared Jai, told The Times of India.

Jai's last sighting was on 18 April. Since then, his radio collar has not been functioning as its circuit has become defunct. The Times of India article added that Jai moved to Umred Karhandla in June 2013. He was collared by Habib in September 2015, but the link failed within a few months. His last sighting was on 8 May, 2016, when on a cattle kill in Brahmapuri.

While it's a common enough occurrence for a tiger to move from one forest area into another, especially in the summer months when the big cats may move longer distances in search of water or a mate, to go three months without a sighting is worrying the officials. Karoo added that there also haven't been any news of cattle being killed, which would have suggested Jai is safe.

"A cattle kill would have suggested he is around. Of course, we have about 10,000 square kilometres of unprotected forests adjoining the protected ones in the area. It is possible he might have gone to a place like Gadchiroli," Karoo told The Indian Express, adding that the search will continue till they find the big cat.

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Updated Date: Jul 20, 2016 14:27:49 IST