By: Pradarshi Paul
Claim: An image of a tigress recently went viral on Facebook, with the claim that it is ‘Avni’, a maneater tigress who was killed recently.
Source: Facebook, Online portals.
What Happened: An image of a tigress has been widely circulated on Facebook that claims it is a picture of ‘Avni’, a tigress that was recently killed near the Borati-Warud area of Maharashtra, after a massive hunt that involved over 200 personnel.
This Facebook post is a deliberate emotional appeal, bemoaning the cruelty of a state that kills animals without thought. It has been shared over 16k times on Facebook.
Most Facebook users have sided with the post, expressing their protest over this issue in the comments.
Quite a few well known people have also sided with the protestors, believing the killing of Avni to be unjustified. Aaditya Thackeray questioned why a tranquilising dart was not used when a “perfect” shot to kill Avni was possible.
However, it is worth noting in this context that the tigress had killed thirteen people, and both the High Court of Maharashtra and the Supreme Court had cleared the order for the attempt to tranquilize the tigress, and failing that, she was to be shot. Therefore, the execution was legal, and, it can be argued, ethical. Moreover, a lot of major conservation groups supported the government and forest official stand as well.
The picture used is of another man-eating tigress who was shot in Nainital, in Uttarakhand, after hunters used drones, helicopters, and even trained elephants to track it down.
The killing of this particular tiger, however, has snowballed into a major controversy, with activists claiming that the tiger should have been tranquilized. The involvement of Nawab Shafat Ali, a sharpshooter with a notorious past, was particularly controversial. However, he has shot and killed other tigers in the past, without raising controversy, and in this case he has narrated his side of the story, claiming that they tried to tranquilize the tiger, but were forced to shoot it since she charged at them. The Maharashtra Forest Minister, Sudhir Mungantiwar, supported this story, also stating that they wanted to catch her alive, but after the tigress attacked forest staff they were left with no choice.
Conclusion: The image in the post is completely irrelevant to this event. However, the controversy surrounding the circumstances of the killing of this particular tigress is likely to continue, especially since prominent politicians and wildlife activists seem bent on holding the government accountable.