Mumbai: Avni, the tigress believed to be responsible for the deaths of 13 people over the last two years, has been killed in Maharashtra's Yavatmal last night, news agency ANI reported. But the animal rights activists had strongly opposed forest officials' decision to issue a shoot at sight order for the leonine creature and a petition on online platform change.org to save tigress Avni and her two cubs garnered over 54,000 signatures.
The six-year-old tiger, named Avni, had two cubs.
For almost three months, equipped with the latest technology, 150 ground personnel, elephants and so-called expert trackers and shooters were on a quest to find Avni. "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", the official said.
T1 was shot by Asghar Ali Khan, son of India's most famous hunter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, who was meant to be leading the hunt but was not present Friday night. They also tried tracking her while riding elephants.
The forest department as well as the Supreme Court had earlier stated and reiterated that the primary objective of the operation was to tranquilise and capture Avni, with killing proposed only as the last alternative.
Some of the local people of Yavatamal celebrated Avni's death with firecrackers and candies, according to Times of India. The India unit of animal rights organisation PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - said that Avni was killed "in possible contempt of court and in apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority", PTI reported. "She may not have died instantly but slowly, through pain and blood loss, and likely in front of her now orphaned and vulnerable cubs".
We along with forester who was authorised for tranquillising reached at the spot and after some effort he shot dart at the tigress. He added that the forest department will take care of them.
Alerted to a sighting, members of the hunting team parked their vehicle on a road the tigress had been spotted on.
However, Maneka Gandhi, the Union minister for women and child development, has disputed the turn of events citing a report in The Print.
The plea also sought revocation of the appointment of Hyderabad-based sharpshooter Shafaqaut Ali Khan for the job, contending that he lacked the experience of tranquillising wild animals. "The tigress lay dead in a single shot". It said the killing should be "investigated and treated as a wildlife crime".