Tigress who killed 13 finally shot dead after three-month search

A hunter shot and killed the female tiger with a single bullet, after the animal had charged at a forest ranger who fired a tranquilising dart at her.

Authorities shot and killed a man-eating tiger on November 2 that terrorized a jungle area in India that was linked to the killings of 13 people. 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.

Broadcaster NDTV said Avni was killed after a huge operation involving sniffer dogs, trip cameras, nearly 200 people and even a hang glider.

"Despite several requests from many stakeholders, [Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar] gave orders for the killing", Gandhi said in a series of tweets.

Ashar said, "this matter must be investigated and treated as a wildlife crime".

Avni was shot dead by the shooter Asgar Ali, the son of well-known sharp-shooter Shafat Ali Khan.

According to a letter written by the chief conservator of forests to principal conservator of forests A.K. Mishra, who had hired Khan, the hunter chose not to cooperate with forest department officials right from the beginning, and instead went on speaking to the media - despite orders that prohibited him to do so. Gandhi said Shafat Ali Khan was "a criminal known for supplying guns to anti-nationals and for a suspected case of murder". "I fail to understand why a state government should even bother about such a man let alone hire his services for illegal and inhuman acts", she said.

She added, "His son was not authorised to kill".

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. "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.

"Avni was killed illegally satisfying a hunter's lust for blood", said the Indian branch of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group. "Ministers and secretaries do not sit in Mumbai and protect forest and animal species".

The minister also criticised non-governmental organisations criticising Avni's killing. "We didn't want them to eventually become enemies of wildlife", PTI quoted Mungantiwar as saying. "When we plant trees, NGOs do not come forward and lend a helping hand".

"We absolutely must ensure that Avni did not die in vain".

  • Rogelio Becker