Avni killing: NTCA seeks report

New Delhi

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has commissioned a report from the Maharashtra Forest Department on how tigress Avni (T1) was killed.

“If we are not satisfied [with the description of events] on whether the animal was executed following established procedure, we will conduct our own investigation,” Arup Nayak, Director, NTCA, said.

The NTCA is the apex statutory body tasked with providing funding support to the States for tiger conservation.

The report is expected by Monday, Mr. Nayak said.

On Sunday, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi had criticised the Maharashtra government for permitting a hunter to kill the tigress.

“This is patently illegal,” Ms. Gandhi, the Women and Child Development Minister, tweeted. “I am definitely going to take up this case of utter lack of empathy for animals as a test case. Legally, criminally as well as politically.”

She said she would take up the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The tigress, which is said to have killed 13 people, was shot dead in Yavatmal on November 2 by civilian hunter Asgar Ali, who was with a team of Forest Department officials.

An official allegedly attempted — and failed — to fire a tranquilliser dart at the tigress, following which she charged at the team. Mr. Ali then fired in self-defence, according to Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

Ms. Gandhi said the controversial celebrity hunter Nawab Shafat Ali had been hired to kill the animal, and that his son, Mr. Ali, was at the scene illegally.

“His son was not authorised to kill. This is patently illegal. Despite forest officials being committed to tranquillise, capture and quarantine the tigress, the trigger-happy shooter has killed her under orders of Shri Mungantiwar,” Ms. Gandhi alleged.

Mr. Nayak said that the State Wildlife Warden was authorised to take a call on declaring an animal a man-eater.

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