Killed man-eater tigress Avni leads to new controversy

Erika Holt
November 4, 2018

A tiger that allegedly killed 13 people in two years has been shot dead in India.

Officials hoped to take her alive because she was known to travel with two 10-month-old cubs.

The hunt for the tigress was on, 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 vicinity of the Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary.

The petitioners had challenged the forest department's order to tranquillise and kill tigress "Avni" (T-1), suspected to be roaming in Pandharkavda forests in Yavatmal district. "Despite the forest officials being committed to tranquilise, capture and qurantine the tigress, the trigger-happy shooter has killed her on his own under orders of Sudhir Mungantiwar".

In this case, there weren't too many arguments about whether or not Avni was responsible for the human killings but there were a lot about whether humans had any business being where they were.

As such, the Times report says: "Villagers in the area erupted in joy when they heard about her death, shooting off firecrackers, passing out candies and pumping their fists in the air".

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"Despite several requests from many stakeholders, S Mungantiwar, Minister for Forests, Maharashtra, gave orders for the killing", she said, adding that he been doing this regularly.

PETA on Saturday demanded that Avni's killing, which the animal rights group said was a "wildlife crime", be investigated. The authorities chose to hunt the tigress to ensure the coexistence of tigers and humans.

On an earlier occasion, Khan had expressed his reluctance to dart the mother of two cubs, because it would be "legally tricky".

The villagers are banned by the government from grazing their cattle in the reserve and have been taking them into the forest because there is little fodder close to their homes, our correspondent says. The staff started alerting the passersby about the presence of the tiger. "The tigress died on the spot", according to a statement from the Maharashtra Forest Department. When certain about the identity, a team member attempted a dart that hit it, but the tigress moved back and charged at the team, which was in a open gypsy. "So as a reflex action of self-defence, Mr. Asghar fired from a distance of about 8-10 metres". There were reports that the state government made a decision to terminate his services after the intervention of Union minister Maneka Gandhi.

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

The Minister also came down heavily on Mungantiwar for giving order to private marksman Shafat Ali Khan's son to carry out the hunting operation.

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