Tigress Avni Shot Dead in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal; Locals Celebrate

Frederick Owens
November 5, 2018

Of the 13 people killed in tiger attacks in the Pandharkawada divisional forest in over two years, five deaths were attributed to Avni.

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.

According to another letter by the deputy conservator of forests, Khan deliberately concealed information about a reported sighting of Avni early on in the operation, sabotaged the forest department's attempts to capture the tigress and created a media frenzy around the case - ostensibly to create support for Avni's killing.

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. "It is impossible to have shot the dart with such textbook precision at the most preferred location on the animal's body in darkness", he said. The six-year-old animal had allegedly killed at least 13 people in Ralegaon forest since June 2016. He added that thirteen people had been killed by the tigress and the decision to kill the man eater was taken as per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines.

Animal rights activists have also expressed concern over Avni's being shot and not tranquilised.

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T1 was shot by Hyderabad-based sharp shooter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan's son Asgarh around 11 pm. However, due to dense forest and darkness, they were unable to do so and finally a bullet was sacked in which the tigress fell on the spot.

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. Calling it a 'straight case of crime, ' Gandhi said that despite 'several requests from many stakeholders, ' Maharashtra Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had chosen to give orders for the killing of Avni. While wildlife enthusiasts and experts cried foul over the incident, the Maharashtra Forest Department defended it saying the tigress was killed in "self-defence'". Hit by a bullet, the tigress fell on the spot.

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi's criticism of her party BJP's government in Maharashtra has sparked a row.

She ultimately asserted that she would take up the issue with Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra.

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