‘La­belling Ti­gress Avni a Man-eater Vi­o­lates NTCA Norms’

Wildlife ex­pert from K’taka raises con­cerns over killing; state govt forms 4-mem­ber panel

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Kr­ishna.Ku­mar @times­group.com

Mum­bai: A week af­ter the ti­gress T1, or Avni as she was called, was shot by a sharp shooter in the forests of Ma­ha­rash­tra, lead­ing to a mas­sive con­tro­versy over the way it was killed, HS Prayag, a for­mer se­nior vet­eri­nary of­fi­cer of the Kar­nataka For­est De­part­ment, told ET that the move to la­bel the ti­gress a man-eater by the state gov­ern­ment was with­out any sci­en­tific ba­sis and in vi­o­la­tion of the Na­tional Tiger Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity’s (NTCA) guide­lines.

Prayag, a wildlife ex­pert who was en­gaged by the Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment in De­cem­ber last year to trap the ti­gress, raised a few ques­tions over its re­cent killing. “I have worked with Shafat Ali Khan (the shar shooter), and I was sure that there was no chance for the an­i­mal to be cap­tured alive if he (Ali) was in­volved in the op­er­a­tions. So, I too par­tic­i­pated in the ef­forts to catch the an­i­mal. But when I ques­tioned the of­fi­cers on what grounds was it la­belled a man-eater, I was just told that there were or­ders from above,” claimed Prayag.

The Ma­ha­rash­tra for­est de­part­ment has claimed that the DNA sam­ples taken from three hu­man kills showed the pres­ence of the ti­gress. But Prayag ar­gued that the lab re­port did not iden­tify it as T1, but only iden­ti­fied it as that of a fe­male ti­gress.

“Even this is sus­pect as anot- her lab has shown in its re­port that the same sam­ple to be of a male tiger. So, on what ba­sis have we la­belled it as a man-eater?” asked Prayag. Prayag’s ar­gu­ments have been fur­ther strength­ened by the post­mortem re­port of Avni, which has shown that it had not eaten for at least 5- 6 days. The Kar­nataka-based wildlife ex­pert has said that a tiger that had turned into a man-eater would hunt a hu­man prey at least once a week.

“A lac­tat­ing ti­gress would in fact kill hu­mans in a much shorter time as she had to feed her cubs too,” pointed out the wildlife ex­pert.

The other as­pect of be­ing a man-eat­ing tigers is that they usu­ally turn into man eaters if they have sus­tained an in­jury to their paws which pre­vents them from hunt­ing down their nor­mal preys when they be­come old. Prayag said that this was not the case with T1 as she did not have any in­juries on her legs, and wasn’t old ei­ther. The Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment has formed a four-mem­ber com­mit­tee to find out the facts of whether guide­lines or pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed in the shoot­ing of Ti­gress T1. The com­mit­tee will probe whether the stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures (SOP) were fol­lowed when the T1Ti­gress was shot.

BCCL Youth Congress work­ers protest­ing against the killing on Nov 5 in Nag­pur

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