Activists Protest Tigress Avni's Killing, Forest Officials on Defensive

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A man-eating tigress, believed to be responsible for killing 13 people in Western India, was shot dead after an elaborate hunt involving forest guards and sharpshooters, officials and News reports said on Saturday, November 3.

The six-year-old tiger, named Avni, had two cubs.

The state forest department had hired an expert hunter and sharpshooter, and mounted an extensive operation involving almost 200 personnel, trap cameras, drones, a pack of trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider to trace her, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Tiwari said the cubs can not be left in the wild.

According to a letter written by the chief conservator of forests to principal conservator of forests A.K. Mishra, who had hired Khan, the hunter chose not to cooperate with forest department officials right from the beginning, and instead went on speaking to the media - despite orders that prohibited him to do so. If the forest department had taken adequate steps to capture the tigress when the initial human kills happened, the tigress could have been captured alive and human lives would have also been saved. When the tiger turned and charged at the vehicle she was killed by a single gunshot, the forestry department said.

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Her carcass has been shifted to Nagpur for an autopsy but her cubs were missing.

"Efforts to dart the animal were simply never made", said Dr Jerryl Banait, who had filed a petition against the shooting of Avni. Tigress Avni, officially known as T1, had killed as many as 14 people in the past two years.

They also rejected the government's argument that Avni was rightly classified a man-eater because she devoured 60 per cent of the humans she allegedly killed. "Who cares about a tigress when industrialists are on the prowl for forest lands", she remarked sarcastically. The latest incident in the man-animal conflict, which comes just days after another tigress (Sundari in Odisha) was blamed for killing a woman whose post-mortem report was inconclusive, shows that we need to get better at dealing with such cases. According to forest officials, the team tried at first to tranquilise her but fired the killing shot when they couldn't put her down. The tigress died on the spot. Gandhi also alleged that Avni's killing was a crime, that Asgar Ali Khan's presence in the hunting party was "illegal" and that he was not following orders when he shot and killed Avni.

Mungantiwar on Monday took strong objection to Maneka's criticism of the Maharashtra government over Avni's killing, claiming she "lacks information" on the case and can order a high-level investigation if she wants to.

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