New Delhi (Sputnik): As the political furor triggered by the shooting of the controversial man-eater tigress Avni refused to die down, the government of India's central state of Maharashtra has agreed to a probe of the circumstances that led to the killing of the controversial animal by the state forest department.
On Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that as per the preliminary reports, the tigress was shot after she attacked forest staff trying to tranquilize her.
"There is no happiness over the killing. The forest department took the decision since she had killed 13 to 14 people. There are some doubts regarding whether the tigress was first shot and then the dart inserted, this aspect will be probed," Fadnavis told the media on Monday.
#FirstVisuals of 'man-eater' tigress Avni (T1) that was killed in Maharashtra's Yavatmal last night. She had allegedly killed 14 people. Her postmortem will be conducted at Nagpur's Gorewada Rescue Centre. #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/eH1jDLf511— ANI (@ANI) November 3, 2018
The move was vociferously criticized by animal rights groups.
"Avni was killed illegally; satisfying a hunter's lust for blood…Plain and simple; in possible contempt of court and in an apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority. She may not have died instantly but slowly, through pain and blood loss, and likely in front of her now orphaned and vulnerable cubs," Meet Ashar, lead emergency response coordinator at PETA India, told Sputnik.
This matter must be investigated and treated as a wildlife crime. Whether sanctioned by the state or not, nobody can be above the law. This is a dark day for our nation and we must hang our heads in shame now, and again if this killing goes unpunished, he added.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, who also heads the NGO People For Animals, tweeted criticizing the Maharashtra government's decision to kill Avni. She was joined by many celebrities and political leaders in criticizing the Maharashtra government.
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 5, 2018
The state govt report: Avni dodged the dart and charged at the 35-man hunting team, and they opened fire in self-defence is straight out of a police fake encounter template. You can’t kill a tigress with cubs when tranquilizing is possible https://t.co/XUo9Qp4b7h— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) November 4, 2018
For the past many months, animal lovers have rallied to save Avni even as more than 150 ground personnel, elephants, expert trackers and shooters were out to kill the tigress, who was believed to have killed around a dozen humans. Hundreds of thousands of supporters online and offline pleaded to the Indian government to let her live on.
In government records, this tigress was named T1, but animal lovers called her "Avni," which means Mother Earth in Hindi. First spotted in the year 2012 in the dense forests of Maharashtra in central India, Avni was later proclaimed a man-eater after 13 deaths were attributed to her since 2016.