Months-long battle of protecting tigress T1 ended with the suspected man-eating tigress being shot by Forest officials in Maharashtra. On Saturday, November 3, Tigress Avni was killed by the son of Nawab Shafat Ali, the hunter hired by Forest Department.
The Forest Officials were on a lookout for the suspected man-eating tigress of Maharashtra Avni (T-1) for months now. The order by Forest Department was to either relocate or hunt the tigress to protect the tiger population and locals in the vicinity. Petitioners filed a complaint against the order stating that the forest officials had hired Shafat Ali, a trigger-happy hunter. Supreme Court decided not to intervene in the official order recommending that the tigress should be killed only as a last resort. Activists from across the spectrum favoured the relocation of Tigress over killing her.
On November 3, the news of the killing of the alleged man-eating tigress Avni surfaced across all major media publications. The Forest officials in their official statement said that they had to kill tigress as there was no other option. They also said that they had to take the drastic measure because Avni was about to attack the hunting party.
For the past few months, activists have argued against the move of the Forest Department to hire Shafat Ali Khan, a hunter known for killing big cats. The activists believed that Forest Officials were not even thinking of relocating the alleged man-eating tigress and they were looking to hunt for man eating tiger in Maharashtra. However, it was Shafat Ali’s son who hunted the tigress.
The official statement state that the search party used the urine of other tigress and American Perfume to lure Avni. The move was successful as Avni followed the trail. The forest officials tried to nab Avni but they couldn’t because of darkness and dense vegetation. Avni, having sensed the search party’s presence, was looking to attack. This resulted in Asgar Ali shooting the tigress, who was declared dead at a local hospital near the forest.
Imagine a situation where many more tigers become man-eater, what is the solution to that problem? Are we going to kill all those tigers? On one hand where we promote campaigns like Save The Tiger and Wildlife Conservation in India and on the other we are willing to kill tigers for acting on their natural instincts?
Many activists say that it is a murder, carried out by the forest officials. Many politicians also jumped to blame the forest officials for being trigger happy. Aditya Thackeray of Shiv Sena blamed the Maharashtra Government and Forest Officials for killing the tigress rather than relocating. He raised the point that these human-tiger conflicts arise because of the ever-shrinking natural habitat of tigers. He also said that killing the wild animals is not a solution to limit the animal-human conflicts. He also quashed the presence of trigger-happy hunters. He in his tweet said that today it might be Avni, tomorrow it might be her cubs – the killing is not the answer. Forest officials need to take the blame for this action.
Central minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi also blamed the Maharashtra Forest Officials for their decision of killing the tigress Avani. Many more politicians criticised Maharashtra Government for their having their focus on killing rather than relocating.
Setting a dangerous precedent for handling of man-eating tigers, the Forest Officials seem to have deliberately dodged the major issue behind the death of humans at the hand of wildlife animals. Activists and animal lovers believe that the major reason for such conflicts is the shrinking habitats of these wild animals. Originally covering a major part of states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the forest areas have been converted in to urban cities. The growing human population has resulted into cutting down of forests to create land for human settlements. Many other animals have also been affected by the shrinking forest covers, such as Asiatic Lions in Gujarat, Leopards and many more.
While the whole world is fighting to preserve the endangered animal species, India made headlines with death of Tigress Avani, being shot down by Forest Officials. The official statement says that the tigress was shot down as a last resort, as it was not possible to capture her. However, this seems a bit too easy, with politicians accusing the hunters claiming that despite being attacked by the tigress, the hunter had the ample time to take a clear, aimed shot. Some activists and animal lovers are calling it a murder, stating that the officials never focused in capturing her alive.
Avni was the mother of two cubs and after her death, the Forest Officials have another task – to capture her cubs. The Forest Officials said that they are looking out for her two cubs, who would be taken to a relocation centre in Nagpur. If deemed safe, they would be taken to other tiger reserves in India. However, the biggest hurdle in relocating a tiger is that it might return back to its original territory or try to return back. However, forest officials believe that Avani’s cubs are too small to return back and they would easily adjust to the new environment.
Note: Featured Image for Representational Purposes only.