India minister turns on own party over killing of man-eating tiger

Avni Killed

Avni Killed

According to another letter by the deputy conservator of forests, Khan deliberately concealed information about a reported sighting of Avni early on in the operation, sabotaged the forest department's attempts to capture the tigress and created a media frenzy around the case - ostensibly to create support for Avni's killing.

The post-mortem had revealed it was a six-year-old big cat weighing around 91 kgs which had killed two persons and left three injured in the area.

According to a release from the Maharashtra Forest Department (MFD), its officials received "many" phone calls from people near Boarati village on the Borati-Warud-Ralegaon road in Pandharkawda that the tigress was moving about.

India's Supreme Court had issued a hunting order for T-1 in September, ruling that she could be killed if tranquillizers failed.

Elsewhere, TV footage showed locals celebrating and distributing candies, saying they were relieved that the terror unleashed by the tigress was over. Despite several requests from many stakeholders, Mungantiwar, Minister for Forests, Maharashtra, gave orders for the killing.

Services of controversial private marksman Shafat Ali Khan was also hired by the forest department.

She said she will be taking up the matter "very strongly" with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

However, she is said to have attacked the team who found her and she was shot by Ashgar Ali Khan, the son of India's most famous hunter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan.

Animal rights activists have also expressed concern over Avni's being shot and not tranquilised. We had an expert team and all required authorisation for me and my son to kill the animal as guided by Supreme Court. He is a criminal known for supplying guns to anti- nationals and for a suspected case of murder in Hyderabad. If the forest department had taken adequate steps to capture the tigress when the initial human kills happened, the tigress could have been captured alive and human lives would have also been saved.

The Indian branch of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the tiger slaughter was about "satisfying a hunter's lust for blood".

He further said the right to kill wild species did not lie with his department and that the Centre and the Supreme Court have laid down stringent guidelines for the goal. "Ministers and secretaries do not sit in Mumbai and protect forest and animal species". "When we plant trees, NGOs do not come forward and lend a helping hand. We didn't want them to eventually become enemies of wildlife", Mr Mungantiwar said.

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