Hunt for man-eating tiger Avni

As the hue and cry regarding the “shoot at sight” order for Avni, the tiger, refuses to mellow down, we bring you a short background of the issue. Avni, or T1, is a 6-year-old tigress living in Pandharkawada forest, Nagpur. She has two nine-month-old cubs. She has been accused of killing and devouring 13 people so far, in the past year and half. Labelled a ‘man-eater’, she has a ‘shoot-to-kill’ order against her, issued by the Maharashtra Forest Department. Activists and conservationists have voiced fierce opposition to this edict, and took up the case to the Supreme Court. The top court refused to restrain the forest department from killing Avni. As news of human-animal conflict keeps coming to our attention, we ponder who really is at fault. Is it the tiger, who hunts to keep herself and her progeny alive, especially as her domain gets encroached up on day by day? Or is it us, humans, who have invited trouble by entering their territory?  Appalled by the verdict, people have protested, and organised signature drives to be sent in a petition to the President of India. The protesters pointed out that the Tigers are living in their natural habitat, with humans entering and encroaching upon their territory, which leads to the tigers retaliating in the only way they know. The protesters also point out ambiguities in the investigation surrounding the killings and Avni. They have raised questions on why instead of the mother-cub trio being relocated, there have been a shooting order. We are duly concerned about the arbitrary order, and pray for the fate of Avni, and those that will follow her precedent.


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