Mumbai: Activists and wildlife enthusiasts have stated that the shooting of Tigress T1, also called Avni, on Friday night was a violation of the Supreme Court order as enough measures had not been taken to tranquillise the tigress before she was shot dead. Wildlife activists doubted the 'man-eater' label given to the tigress, as it did not meet the criteria set by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
T1, that had allegedly killed 13 persons in the Pandharkawada forest of Yavatmal district, was being hunted for four months. Since the shooting order for Avni was issued by chief wildlife warden A.K. Mishra in September, there have been strong protests from activists against killing the tigress, who was mother of two 10-month-old cubs.
"We had time and again urged the forest department to explore the option of tranquillising the tigress and relocating her along with the cubs rather than shooting her. The killings that occurred by the tigress could be instances of 'chance encounters' as the grazers were found inside dense forests. It means that humans had encroached upon the space of wild animals. Moreover, there were no efforts taken to tranquillise the tigress. Neither was a vet present at the site when the shooting took place so that her wounds could be treated immediately," said Dr Jerryl Banait, wildlife activist who had filed petition in the apex court against the shoot-on-sight order.
Wildlife organisations have asked for proper investigation in the matter. Many eyebrows were raised when a private poacher was called for shooting the tigress, where wildlife enthusiasts highlighted that it could mean clearing the way for further development work in forests.
"Avni was killed illegally, in possible contempt of court and in apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the NTCA. She may not have died instantly but slowly through pain and blood loss, and likely in front of her now orphaned and vulnerable cubs. This matter must be investigated and treated as a wildlife crime. This is a dark day for our nation and we must hang out heads in shame now," said Mr Nikunj Sharma, associate director of policy, PETA India.
Forest officials refuted the claims of deliberate shooting of the tigress stating that since September various measures had been taken to capture the tigress and Avni was not shot immediately. "We have brought elephants from Madhya Pradesh, deployed drones and called expert trackers to find the tigress but it did not yield anything. We had decided to nab her alive, but the sight was not clear in the dense forest due to the darkness. We were unable to get a clear view of it and when a bullet was fired, tigress fell on the spot. We rushed her to the hospital but she was already dead," said a senior official from the forest department.