Nagpur (Maharashtra), Oct 16 (IANS) The Bombay High Court’s Nagpur Bench on Tuesday admitted a PIL that sought a stay on plans to kill a ‘man-eater’ tigress and instead capture her alive, a wildlife activist said.
Medico and wildlife activist Jerryl A. Banait said that a division bench headed by Justice B.P. Dharmadhikari posted the public interest litigation he had filed on behalf of his NGO Earth Brigade Foundation for hearing on October 19.
The five-year-old tigress, known as Avni or T1, is currently the focus of a hunt for the past two months after she allegedly killed human beings in the lush Pandharkawada forests of Yavatmal in eastern Maharashtra last year.
Banait contended that instead of killing her, which will orphan her two 10-month-old cubs, the Forest Department should capture her alive, as per the Supreme Court orders on September 11.
“The department claimed that this tigress has killed over a dozen humans and in January this year, issued orders to shoot her at sight. However, in that month, she gave birth to two cubs, who are solely dependent on her for survival in the wild,” Banait told IANS.
He claimed that since the birth of the cubs, there was not a single human death reported in the area, where seven other tigers roam the wild.
“So, how have the officials concluded that she is the man-eater and are now hunting for her? They have not even conducted proper scat (droppings) tests or analysed her predatory habits. If they kill her without following the Supreme Court and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines, they will actually be responsible for three deaths, since her cubs cannot survive without her,” Banait said.
Meanwhile, the hunt for the tigress is on, with the help of trap cameras, drones, a pack of trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider along with a team of Forest Department officials in the vicinity of the Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary.
The department has also hired the services of controversial private marksman Shafat Ali Khan but Banait says it not only violates the NCTA directives but also disregards the apex court orders.
He claimed that Khan was arrested by Karnataka Police on the charge of supplying weapons to the Maoists and later for conducting illegal shooting expeditions. The Karnataka authorities later dropped the second case.
A petition to save Avni T1 has also been launched on website change.org.