Thursday, 19 September, 2019

India's man-eating tiger shot dead after massive hunt

Avni or T-1 Image Avni's body has been taken to a zoo in the city of Nagpur for a post-mortem. Pic Indian Forestry Department
Patty Aguilar | 04 November, 2018, 07:44

She was traced with the help of trap cameras, drones, a pack of trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider along with a team of Forest Department officials in the region of the Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary.

In August the tigress and her two nine-month-old cubs killed three people in the area around the town of Pandharkawada in Yavatmal district and left more than 5,000 residents fearing for their lives.

The tigress was shifted to Nagpur for post-mortem. Dr Jerryl Banait, who approached the Supreme Court against the September 4 shoot-at-sight order of the state forest department, alleged the tigress was shot dead without any effort to tranquillise her. "In the night, it is nearly impossible to even identify the gender of any tiger, let alone a specific target like Avni", said Banait.

Sources familiar with the ground situation charged on Saturday that T1's killing amounted to cold-blooded murder.

In fact, as reported by ThePrint earlier, forest officials had shot off at least two written complaints that clearly stated that "two golden opportunities" to capture the tigress were lost because of Khan's actions. Speaking to ThePrint, he had said, "The NTCA prohibits darting of animals at night, and during the day, it is impossible to spot her". However, after hit by the darts she went violent and attacked the team when one of the team members Asgar shot at her and she was killed, the press note from the forest department said. The tigress could have been easily tranquilised and relocated.

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Reports said so far there is no information about her two cubs.

On the debate of man-versus-animals conflict, he said it was the duty of the government to end this conflict rather than kill the animals, hacking forest trees, even in Mumbai, in the name of improving infrastructure, and giving away 88 hectares of forest land for industrial use.

"Avni was killed illegally satisfying a hunter's lust for blood", said People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

It said India's Wildlife Protection Act and National Tiger Conservation Authority rules had been flouted, calling for the matter to be "investigated and treated as a wildlife crime". On 11 September, the Supreme Court heard the petitions challenging the Bombay High Court's decision which gave the forest department a go-ahead to implement its order to tranquillize or shoot the tigress. The activists point out that it would also mean near-certain death for her two dependent young ones. Animal rights activists saw them as encroachers, and argued that she couldn't be called a man-eater because she hadn't entered human habitations to kill people.

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