New team of wildlife experts to probe killing of tigress Avni

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has constituted a three-member team of independent wildlife experts to probe how the man-eating tiger Avni (T1) was killed. After animal activist and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi criticised the killing of Avni (which was legally sanctioned by Maharashtra’s wildlife authorities) last Sunday, the NTCA said it had asked the State’s Wildlife Department to explain the circumstances of the death. Specifically, it wanted to know who actually shot the tiger and whether there was an attempt to tranquilise it. “If we are not satisfied (with the description of events) on whether the animal was executed following established procedure, we’ll conduct our own investigation,” Arup Nayak, Director, NTCA, had told The Hindu on November 5. On Friday, Mr. Nayak told The Hindu that the NCTA had now constituted a team to investigate the killing of Avni, after visiting Yavatmal, where the tiger was shot on November 2. Experienced team “The three-member team will have experienced wildlife experts from the Wildlife Trust of India, a retired Forest officer from Kerala and NTCA’s own officer from its Nagpur division,” Mr. Nayak said. The tigress which is said to have killed 13 people, was shot dead by civilian hunter Asgar Ali, who was with a team of Maharashtra Forest Department officials. According to Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, an official allegedly attempted — and failed — to fire a tranquiliser dart at the tigress following which she charged at the team. Mr Ali then fired in self-defence. Mr. Nayak said the State Wildlife Warden was authorised to decide on a declaring an animal a man-eater. “Until that step, all actions taken were followed in accordance with law. It’s the later steps that the new team will be investigating,” he added.

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