Tigress Avni, who is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 13 people in the past two years, has been killed in Maharashtra's Yavatmal last night as part of an operation.
"Avni was shot dead by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali, son of famous sharp-shooter Nawab Shafat Ali, at compartment no 149 of Borati forest under the jurisdiction of the Ralegaon police station," a police official said.
Avni is survived by her two cubs who are 10 months old.
In September this year, the Supreme Court had said Avni or T1, as she is called, could be shot at sight, which prompted a flurry of online petitions seeking pardon for the tigress.
The Forest Department Friday carried out the operation in Borati with the help of controversial private marksman Asgar Ali.
"Urine of another tigress and American perfume was spread in some part of the compartment, following which Avni came by sniffing it," the official said.
"The forest officials initially tried to nab her alive. However, due to dense forest and darkness, they were unable to do so and finally a bullet was fired in which the tigress fell on the spot," he said.
"After she became motionless, forest officials went closer to her and later rushed her to a hospital in Nagpur, where she was declared dead," the official said.
The post-mortem was in progress, he said.
For nearly 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.
The man-eater has been a cause of concern with the Maharashtra government and environmentalists for the last few months. Activists across the country have been protesting against the tigress’ killing with online petitions and rallies, using the hashtag #letAvnilive.
#FirstVisuals of 'man-eater' tigress Avni (T1) that was killed in Maharashtra's Yavatmal last night. She had allegedly killed 14 people. Her postmortem will be conducted at Nagpur's Gorewada Rescue Centre. #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/eH1jDLf511— ANI (@ANI) November 3, 2018
Bengaluru-based activist Prerana Chakraborty had earlier told TNIE that the tiger is being wrongly labelled as a ‘man-eater’. “There is no proof that the tiger has eaten 13 people. Also, the animal had not left the forest, so it is the man’s fault for entering their territory,” she said.
A pack of trained sniffer dogs, trap cameras, drones and a hang-glider along with a team of Forest Department officials were active in the vicinity of the Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary, as the hunt for the tigress was on.
Avni was first spotted in the forests of Yavatmal in 2012.
DNA evidence links her to 5 of the 13 bodies found in the thickets she inhabits. Biologists and the Forest Department officials who have surveyed the area over the past few years say that there is only one other tiger there, a male tiger. His DNA was found on one of the bodies.
(With agency inputs)