MUMBAI: Man-eater tigress Avni, believed to responsible for the death of 14 over past two years in Pandharkawda jungle of Yavatmal district in Western Vidarbha, was shot dead on Friday night after a massive tiger-hunt going on since September.
However, the killing of the tigress has led to a controversy over the genuineness of the killing. Nicknamed T1, the Six-year-old tigress was the mother of two cubs.
Asgar, son of controversial Hyderabad based shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, killed the tigress when she attacked the hunters' team. The team had tried to tranquillizing her, but she attacked the team, forest officials have said.
"The road adjoining Borati village was the area where Avni was killed. This was the same place where she is believed to have made her first attack on a villager about two years back. Including the encounter last night she is believed to have made three attacks in the area," said senior forest officer Sunil Limaye.
The tigress was at around 20 meters of distance when darts were fired in order to tranquilize her. However, after hit by the darts she went violent and attacked the team when one of the team members Asgar shot at her and she was killed, the press note from the forest department said.
The carcass of the tigress has been shifted to the rescue centre at the Gorewada zoo in Nagpur where a post-mortem is being done. The post-mortem report is expected to shed more light on the entire even of the tigress being killed, the animal-lovers have said. Forest department had deployed a team of around 150 people along with 100 camera traps, hunter dogs, drones and motorised paragliders to trace the tigress and her cubs. Efforts to trace the tigress were renewed on September 11 after the Supreme Court refused to change or stay the PCCF's (Principal Chief Conserv Forests) order that the tigress can be killed if attempts to tranquilize her fail.
After failures in the past two months, the forest official had renewed operation 'T1 Capture' on Friday at Ralegaon jungle, which yielded the result at around midnight. After the death of the tigress, the forest officials are now trying to trace her two 11-month-old cubs. According to some experts, 11 months old cubs can survive in the forest.
However, an online petition to 'save tigress Avni' that was signed by over 50,000 people said that her killing "would eventually result in the death of her two cubs too, as they are both too young to hunt and survive on their own". Avni was first spotted in the forests of Yavatmal in 2012 and 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, forest officials have said.