Vinod Jagdale, Mumbai/Nagpur, Nov 3: Batting for the killed maneating tigress of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav thackeray's son Yuvasena chief Aaditya Thackeray has questioned why the tigress was not captured alive. Taking a dig at the government, Aditya quipped "Let’s rename the Ministry of Forests as the Ministry of Poaching". Avni, a five-year old alleged man-eater tigress who had created terror in Maharshtra's Vidarbha forests, was shot dead on Saturday in Yavatmal district.The search operation came after nearly three months of a massive tigress-hunt along with trap cameras, drones, a pack of trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider along with a team of forest department officials and spotters.Avni, identified as T1, was considered responsible for the killing of at least 13 humans, though all deaths could not be linked to her after tests, according to experts.A fertile and healthy tigress, she was protecting her two 10-month old dependent cubs in the vicinity of the Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary, since the past several weeks till she was shot down by a marksman, Nawab Asghar Ali Khan.Her carcass has been shifted to Nagpur for an autopsy but her cubs were missing.
As per the Supreme Court directives, the forest department and officials were required to first tranquilise and trap her, but in Saturday's operations, she allegedly attacked the stalking team which shot her.Wildlife activist and medico Jerryl A. Banait, who had filed a public interest litigation jointly with NGO Earth Brigade Foundation (EBF), said that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)'s rules have been grossly violated in the killing of Avni."Such an operation can be carried out only between sunrise and sunset, there was no vets present during the killing early today or the police, as per the NTCA's guidelines. In the night, its almost impossible to even identify the gender of any tiger, let alone a specific target like Avni," said Banait.Besides PILs in the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench), several wildlife groups and activists had strongly opposed plans to eliminate Avni since it would also mean near-certain death for her two dependent young ones, online petitions and social media campaigns since several months, demonstrations and protests in a bid to save the tigress and her cubs.Yuvasena chief Aaditya Thackeray's questions on Killing of Avni"So what exactly is the difference between poachers/ trophy hunters and the government officials who shot down and killed Tigress Avni ?Just that the Government officials and the forest ministry is supposed to protect animals and forests from these poachers, not get inspired by them.Human- Animal conflict exists world over but it’s the duty of this very ministry to resolve such conflicts without hurting humans or wild life.I want the Honourable Minister of Forest to ask his officials handling this issue, and then answer the people directly on:1) If they could get a shot, so perfect to murder Avni, why couldn’t this expert blood thirsty hunter dart the tigress and tranquilise her?2) Yes, probably there was a conflict with humans and we have to protect humans, but has the government really done anything to protect humans? Built toilets inside their houses? Fenced their farmlands? Compensated those killed and done anything else to protect the rest?3) Whoever this expert hunter was, what a good shot! But such a perfect shot on a moving animal like a tiger that’s swift and apparently killing humans in sight needs practice.Where does he practice killing animals? And more importantly thereafter, was the tigress shot from a machaan? Or face to face just before it could kill him? Then surely darting was an option.More so, did he have the explicit permission of the Court to kill her, in his name, also when there was an alternative to dart her? Can he be tried under the wild life protection act?As a family of wild life lovers and conservationists, we had been coordinating internally to stop this hunt. The tigress could’ve been easily tranquillised and relocated. We didn’t speak publicly so as to not make it political or personal.It still isn’t. It’s about our nature.Today it is Avni, tomorrow it’ll be her cubs or another tiger.The conflict won’t end. The government needs to eliminate reasons for the conflict rather than kill animals: make indoor toilets, fence farms etc.Sadly today the mentality of the ministry and whoever runs this ministry with this attitude of laziness in conservation has been proved.It’s about credit. It’s about trophy hunting.• We kill tigers when they can be tranquillised and relocated, also while saving humans• Hack not just a forest in a city like Mumbai, but many more trees while claiming to improve transport• Apparently give away 88 hectares of land from a forest to industrial useLet’s stop with the government hoarding ads of 5 crore tree plantations and distributing tigers made of PoPLet’s rename the Ministry of Forests as the Ministry of Poaching".