Couldn’t Have Let Humans Die To Save Tigress Avni: Maharashtra Minister

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Tigress Avni is survived by her two cubs, both over a year old.

Mumbai:

Tigress Avni was shot dead as a last resort when all attempts to tranquilise her failed and she attacked officials, Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said on Sunday. He also hit back at NGOs criticizing Avni's killing and said forest teams could not have let humans die to save an animal.

The tigress, T1, as she was known officially, was shot Friday night by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali Maharashtra's Borati forest,

Mr Mungantiwar said nobody in the Forest Department wanted to kill the tigress. Hundreds of personnel from the department were trying to capture her alive since the last 3 months.

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He added that there was unrest among local farmers and tribals after she had reportedly killed 13 people in the past two years.

"Ministers and secretaries do not sit in Mumbai and protect forest and animal species. It is done by farmers and Adivasis. In this case, there was a lot of unrest among them. We didn't want them to eventually become enemies of wildlife," Mr Mungantiwar said.

He added that all possible means were tried to capture the animal, but it had to be shot down to save the lives of forest staff trying to tranquilise her.

When asked about Avni's two cubs, Mr Mungantiwar said they were capable of surviving in the wild. He added that the forest department will take care of them.

In September this year, the Supreme Court had said Avni could be shot at sight, which prompted a flurry of online petitions seeking pardon for the tigress.

"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.

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