Nagpur: Chief Minister of Indian state of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis on Friday expressed hope that 'Jai' the tiger which has gone missing from a forest in the district would return as it had done in the past.
The seven-year-old big cat went missing from Umred Karhandla wildlife sanctuary in April.
A reward of Rs50,000 has been announced for providing genuine information about the tiger, whose disappearance has galvanised wildlife enthusiasts and people to launch a search in village after village near the sanctuary.
"Jai has the history of going astray and returning after some time. We (government) are hopeful and confident this time also the tiger will be tracked and traced," Fadanvis said at a function to mark International Tiger Day, organised by Forest Department.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari was the chief guest for the programme. State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also expressed optimism about Jai's return, saying the tiger will be traced soon.
Meanwhile, the chief minister said he was happy to see people's reaction in the wake of big cat's disappearance.
"We are happy that missing of a tiger has created awareness about the wild animals and that people from all walks of life have evinced interest in the entire missing episode," he said.
'Jai' is named after a popular character with the same name in the iconic Bollywood movie "Sholay".
According to sources in Forest department, Jai's disappearance came to light when its collar gadget failed to transmit any radio signal. Subsequently, a massive search and rescue operation was launched by Forest department, which was soon joined by wildlife enthusiasts.
Some citizens even organised prayers for Jai's well being and return recently. On its part, the Forest department has deployed personnel who are familiar with the topography of the sanctuary to trace the feline.