Avni: ‘two chances to tranquillise missed’

Forest official wrote on Sept. 20 about lack of coordination

Even as this month’s shooting of Avni, the tigress that is said to have killed 13 villagers, remains a subject of intense debate, a letter written by a forest department official to Maharashtra’s Chief Wildlife Warden reveals the disquiet over the manner in which the search for the elusive cat was being pursued.

“Two golden opportunities to execute the Chief Wildlife Warden’s (CWW) order — to tranquillise Avni, the tigress, in a very prompt and scientific way was missed,” K.M Abharna, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DSF) Pandharkawada, wrote in a letter dated September 20.

“As per the meeting held on September 12, 2018, by CWW to strategise the course of action for next 7 days, the operation was commenced from September 13, 2018,” Ms. Abharna, wrote in the letter, a copy of which is with The Hindu. Detailing the incidents, where in her opinion, opportunities to tranquillise the cat were missed, she wrote: “On September 14, 2018, despite knowing that all the teams are extensively searching for T1 and cubs on September 12, information was strategically concealed for more than 14 hours.

“Later information was shared by assistant conservator of forests (who was accompanying the nawab team) on September 15, to the DCF Pandharkwada. Based on that the combing operation started and found old pugmarks at Ca86. “Had it been informed to any of the team members on September 14 itself, the elephants (from Madhya Pradesh) could have been deployed to execute the order of CWW on the same day. Had it been intimated to the team/DCF immediately, the whole team” could have worked together to attain a result, the DCF wrote. “Two veterinarians approached the cattle kill around 5 p.m. the tigress could not be located around till sunset. Hence the operation was suspended until next morning to ensure compliance of the Supreme Court order.

“The DCF was intimated that Nawab’s team will roam in the road or wait in the road to take a chance without disturbing the kill. Unfortunately, despite clear planning and instructions, nawab team took the vehicle till cattle kill and sat for long without any planning. It caused disturbance on the kill made by T1, significantly reduced her chances to return to kill. Hence morning tranquillisation efforts could not be carried out,” Ms. Abharna wrote, lamenting the lack of coordination.


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