Activists livid after ‘man-eater’ tigress Avni shot dead by officials in Maharashtra

Cheryl Sanders
November 4, 2018

"Man-eating" tigress Avni was killed on Friday night in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district during a hunt operation by the Maharashtra Forest department, The Times of India reported.

For over a week now, wildlife enthusiasts and animal lovers were campaigning to save Avni or named T-1, who has terrorised the region with her alleged killing spree for which the government had issued a shoot at sight order because she was allegedly a man-eater.

The 6-year-old mother of two cubs is believed to have had 13 victims, most of whom were male herders.

Trained sniffer dogs, trap cameras, drones and a hang-glider, expert trackers, sharp-shooters and around 200 ground personnel were roped in for the task. The decision was challenged by animal rights activists in the Bombay high court, which disposed of the application seeking stay-against orders to shoot the tigress.

T1 was shot by Hyderabad-based sharp shooter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan's son Asgarh around 11 pm.

When queried about the two cubs of the deceased tigress, Mr. Mungantiwar said that the two were now almost 11 months old and capable of survival in the wild.

However, the government order to kill the tigress generated a flurry of online petitions.

Friday night's shooting near the town of Pandharkawda has triggered controversy over the legality of Avni's killing.

"A distinction has to be made between a tigress killing a human and a habitual man-eater", he said.

He added that all possible means were tried to capture the animal, but it had to be shot down to save the lives of forest staff trying to tranquilise her. Its Lead Emergency Response Coordinator, Meet Ashar, in a statement Saturday said, "Avni was killed illegally satisfying a hunter's lust for blood in possible contempt of court and in apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority".

Alerted to a sighting, members of the hunting team parked their vehicle on a road the tigress had been spotted on.

The forest department outlined the course of events in a press release. The tigress died on the spot. "So as a reflex action of self-defence, Mr. Asghar fired from a distance of about 8-10 metres".

In a series of tweets, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said, "I am deeply saddened by the way tigress Avni has been brutally murdered in Yavatmal".

Hours later, the tigress - dubbed T1 by forest rangers and Avni by animal advocates - was seen walking down a street near the Borati village, and a patrol team was dispatched.

She said she is going to take up the matter "very strongly" with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Other reports by iNewsToday