Avni, a five-year-old alleged man-eater tigress, who had created terror in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha forests, was shot dead early on Saturday near Borati village in Yavatmal district, drawing flak from activists and Shiv Sena, the ruling BJP ally in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena’s Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray attacked the government for shooting the tigress, terming it as “poaching and trophy hunting.”
The operation came after nearly three months of a massive hunt for the tigress undertaken with the help of trap cameras, drones, trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider along with a team of forest department officials and spotters.
Avni, identified as T1, was considered responsible for the killing of at least 13 humans, though all deaths could not be linked to her after tests, according to experts.
A fertile and healthy tigress, she was protecting her two 10-month-old cubs in the vicinity of the Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary for several weeks till she was shot down by a marksman, Nawab Asghar Ali Khan.
Her carcass was shifted to Gorewada Rescue Centre in Nagpur for an autopsy and last rites.
As per the Supreme Court directives, the forest department and officials were required to first tranquilize and trap her, but in Saturday’s operation, she allegedly attacked the stalking team which shot her.
Wildlife activist and medico Jerryl A. Banait, who has filed a public interest litigation jointly with NGO Earth Brigade Foundation (EBF), said the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)’s rules have been grossly violated in the killing of Avni.