New Delhi: The mystery of the missing tiger surfaced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, with two MPs asking the Union environment minister to take steps to find seven-year-old Jai who vanished from a Maharashtra sanctuary six months ago.

Vinayak Bhaurao Raut of the Shiv Sena from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg and Nanabhau Falgunrao Patole, the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bhandara-Gondiya, raised the issue in the Lok Sabha during the question hour.

While environment minister Anil Madhav Dave was highlighting initiatives taken for tiger conservation and protection, Raut said a tiger named Jai disappeared from Tadoba region in Maharashtra, and demanded steps to find him.

Jai has been missing since April from the Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, where he was the crowd puller.

“It is true that Jai is missing since last six months. But I want to tell that a tiger’s area is 100 In such a huge area, which is a dense forest, we are trying to find him. We still have not declared him dead. He can be alive. It was getting difficult for us to find him during monsoon," the minister replied.

“But since the rainy season is now over, we are still trying to find him," Dave added.

Patole expressed concern over smuggling of tigers to countries like China and reminded Dave that he had promised to seek Interpol’s help to check this. Patole said he believes Jai has been poached and body parts sent to China.

Dave replied that there was no proof yet of Jai’s death.

“Efforts to trace him are still on. But this is true that there is demand for tiger’s body parts in south-east Asia and China. We discuss these issues with neighbouring countries. If needed, we also seek Interpol’s help. In Jai’s context, I would like to say that we should not believe that he has died. We are trying our best to find him and whenever we will be successful in that we will share," the environment minister added.

A report in April 2016 by WWF and Global Tiger Forum revealed that globally, the number of tigers in the wild has increased to 3,890. India is home to nearly 60% of total tiger population of world with about 2,226 of them across 50 tiger reserves.