In government records, this tigress is named T1, but animal lovers call her "Avni," which means Mother Earth. First spotted in the year 2012 in the dense forests of Maharashtra in central India, Avni is now a proclaimed man-eater after 13 deaths have been attributed to her in the last two years.
An online petition launched by Avni lovers is now gaining international attention.
Vocal supporters of Avni say that it is the people who have encroached the habitat of the tigress and it's not the other way round.
#Avni shouldn’t be saved because animal activists and celebrities are screaming themselves hoarse, regardless of the human lives lost.— Kamna Pandey (@PandeyKamna) October 8, 2018
Avni should be saved coz every killed human on the list was ILLEGALLY in the forest land, in HER ONLY HOME. #LetAvniLive #SaveAvni @narendramodi pic.twitter.com/yJnEyAuEzu
In the name of development, the govt. Is encroaching on forest land now that rightfully belongs to the wildlife. To an extent that a tigress,#Avni is given a death sentence for a crime against her that's not even proven. She is framed for corporate greed. #LetAvniLive @PMOIndia— Sadaa (@iamsadaasayed) October 11, 2018
Support for Avni is pouring in from different parts of the world.
'Save Tigress Avni' campaign garners more support. The Maharashtra govt declared the tigress a 'Man eater' & was allowed by the HC to take adequate measures against her, even if it meant shooting her. The tigress is said to have killed 13 people in last 2 years #LetAvniLive pic.twitter.com/tZvBkttXdU— Mirror Now (@MirrorNow) October 12, 2018
"Our first option is of course to tranquilize her and this where we are putting all of our efforts," the PTI quotes Sunil Limaye, a top official of the Forest Department of Maharashtra.
"We don't want to kill her but it is getting increasingly difficult to do so. The undergrowth in the area due to the lantana is so dense that one can hardly walk through it and if the tiger moves through that, to get a clear shot with a tranquilizer is practically impossible," he added.
In the last ten months of the hunt for T1, the government has tried all tricks, but in vain. Five elephants were brought in as a patrol squad to navigate areas that jeeps cannot. But it became impossible for the elephants in the very hot and very humid climate in the region. One of the elephants is also reported to have killed a local woman in the meantime.
Drones with thermal image capacity were also pressed into service, but the tigress could not be spotted. While the government and environment activists lock horns, Avni remains free and at large with her two cubs.