Activists Protest Tigress Avni's Killing, Forest Officials on Defensive

Man-eating tigress shot dead in India

One of India's most high-profile tiger hunts in decades ended Friday night when the mother of two 10-month old cubs - known to hunters as T1 but Avni to wildlife lovers - was shot dead in the jungles of Maharashtra state. The Supreme Court, in September, had said Avni could be shot on sight, prompting a flurry of online petitions.

For almost three months, 150 ground personnel, elephants and so-called expert trackers and shooters were on a hunt to find Avn as she had killed 13 people over the last two years in the region.

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.

The Maharashtra Forest Department said on Saturday that a team armed with a tranquilizer gun and firearm had waited for the tiger in a vehicle on a road near the village of Borati. "We didn't want them to eventually become enemies of wildlife", Mr Mungantiwar said. They also tried tracking her while riding elephants. "Despite the forest officials being committed to tranquilise, capture and quarantine the tigress, the trigger-happy shooter has killed her on his own under orders of Mungantiwar", the Union minister said.

Some of the local people of Yavatamal celebrated Avni's death with firecrackers and candies, according to Times of India.

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"Avni was killed illegally satisfying a hunter's lust for blood in possible contempt of court and in apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority", PETA India said in a statement. There is no update on her cubs.

The department said they were trying hard to get to a "touching distance" of the tigress to dart her with a tranquiliser for the last six months, but have failed. The choice of the shooter and the circumstances of Avni's death have faced criticism from animal rights activists.

Last night, from 6.45 pm onwards, the tigress was sighted by many villagers. The tigress died on the spot.

Gandhi even hit out at state Forests Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar, saying he ordered the killing of the tigress and this was the third big cat being murdered under his jurisdiction. Interestingly, the tigress was killed not by the man tasked to do so, but his son.

Shafat Ali Khan, who was first given permission to shoot the tigress, could not be reached on phone for his comments as there was no official word if his son was also allowed to shoot the animal. "I am definitely going to take up this case...legally, criminally as well as politically and will take up the matter very strongly with CM Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis", she tweeted.

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