Indian tiger ‘Avni‘ shot dead after 13 deaths

Indian tiger ‘Avni‘ shot dead after 13 deaths

The five-year-old female tiger was accused of being responsible for the deaths of 13 people in the Indian forests of Maharashtra. A military-style operation tracked her down and shot her.

The Maharashtra Forest Department said on Saturday that a team armed with a tranquilizer gun and firearm had waited for the tiger in a vehicle on a road near the village of Borati.

Villagers had called forest officials on Friday to say they had spotted the tiger which had been given the name T-1 by rangers, but which was also known as “Avni.”

The hunters waited for several hours before they identified the tiger and shot her, they said with a tranquilizer dart. As she was hit, she was said to have charged the vehicle and another shot, fired from a distance of about 10 meters (33 feet) was fatal.

“In a reflex action of self-defense, the shooter fired from a distance of 8 to 10 meters. The tigress died on the spot,” according to a statement from the Maharashtra Forest Department.

The mother of two 10-month-old cubs had been linked to the deaths of 13 villagers near the Ralegaon forest in Maharashtra state‘s Yavatmal district since June 2016. There was reported to be DNA evidence linking her to 5 of the 13 deaths in Yavatmal, and forest surveyors said there was a male tiger in the forest whose DNA was found on one of the bodies.

Hunt to kill order from Supreme Court

India‘s Supreme Court had issued a hunting order for T-1 in September, ruling that she could be killed if tranquillizers failed. The court ordered that a vet should be present during the hunt.

However, there are media reports that no vet was present and no attempt was made to tranquilize the tiger. There have been suggestions that the dart found in her body was put there after she died.

There were 150 people involved in the quasi-military operation tracking the tiger in the months after the Supreme Court decision.

The hunters used equipment including infrared cameras, a paraglider, a bulldozer to clear tall plants from the jungle, and a cologne containing a pheromone which hunters in the US claimed could be used to attract big cats. They also tried tracking her while riding elephants.

The tiger hunt had been opposed by animal welfare groups and wildlife activists. Jerryl Banait from Nagpur said Avni should have been captured and relocated, as others accused state authorities of allowing prime tiger habitat to be used for industrial development. 

in India but their territory is being reduced by urban sprawl from a number of Indian towns and cities.

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Wild tiger population rises for first time in a century

jm/rc (AFP, dpa)