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Murder of a tigress: Latest of a gory hunting spree

Murder of a tigress: Latest of a gory hunting spree
Highlights

A maneating tigress, the mother of two 9month old cubs, that allegedly killed more than 13 persons in two years was shot dead on November 2 She was known to hunters as T1 but Avni to wildlife lovers But the end of Indias most highprofile tiger hunts in decades has triggered a raging debate,

A man-eating tigress, the mother of two 9-month old cubs, that allegedly killed more than 13 persons in two years was shot dead on November 2. She was known to hunters as T1 but Avni to wildlife lovers. But the end of India's most high-profile tiger hunts in decades has triggered a raging debate, and rightly so, on whether the hunt was illegal and if it amounts to what Union Minister and animal rights activist, Maneka Gandhi, calls a ‘ghastly murder’. Avni was shot dead in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra by Asghar Ali, son of controversial hunter Shafat Ali, provoking sharp responses from animal rights activists even as villagers celebrated the death of the big cat.

Looking at the basics of the controversy, we come to know that the ‘shoot to kill’ order was in the name of Khan and not his son, Asghar Ali. Hence, the killing itself is patently illegal. It is being alleged that Shafat Ali Khan was a dear friend of Maharashtra Forest Minister, Mungantiwar and he was a known illegal weapon supplier to criminals. The primary objective of the operation was to tranquilise the tigress and capture it alive.

Now coming to Shafat's gory hunting spree, it is known that he had killed three tigers, at least 10 leopards, a few elephants and 300 wild boars in Chandrapur. Why would a State government get involved with such a criminal and praise him as a glorious hunter? The case of Avni had gone to the Supreme Court with the villagers seeking that the tigress be put to rest while wildlife lovers opposing it.

Here is what the post-mortem report got to say about Avni's death. “...death occurred due to excessive internal bleeding and heart attack. A tranquilising dart was found on her left hind leg. A gun bullet injury was found on the left side of the chest.” It is also not known whether a veterinary doctor was accompanying the team.

There is also no answer to questions regarding why they darted it after sun set which is against the rule. Why was it shot when the Forest Department had sworn in an affidavit that they would only capture the cubs first and then the mother as the cubs won’t be able to survive without their mother in the wild. Wild life followers and scientists know that a tigress always runs away from the spot the moment it is darted. It does not charge back. It got that much sense to save itself.

Experts also question the positioning of the dart in the tiger as "the dart could be seen stuck near the rump of the tigress body was stuck into it after it was shot dead. When a dart is shot from a darting gun and strikes an animal it looks very different". The reason for this claim is that the pink stabilising tuft at the end of the plunger which pushes the sedative into the animal would have been flush with the black collar of the drug holding barred if it was actually fired from a gun. We have no right to kill the tiger.

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