The Supreme Court order of 12 September, in which the apex court refused to interfere with the 'shoot-at-sight' notice for a tigress in a Maharashtra forest, garnered strong reactions from wildlife activists and NGOs. In response to the order to kill the 'man-eater' tigress identified as T1 or 'Avni', several activists and NGOs have come together to create the 'Let Avni Live' petition.
The petition on Change.org has also created a presence on social media with some prominent celebrities and politicians — including Priya Dutt, extending their support to the campaign. The Twitter feed features videos from people in support of 'letting Avni live'.
The tigress T1 lives in the Pandharkawada forest in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra which, the petition on Change.org claims, is an area rampant with illegal cattle grazing and encroachment. Several factories, and incidents of pesticide poisoning are factors that lead to "constant man-animal conflicts".
According to reports, the Maharashtra forest department had claimed that the six-year-old tigress, along with two of her cubs, had consumed 60 percent of a human corpse in September which led to the decision of declaring her as a 'man-eater'. Reportedly, Avni had claimed at least 9 lives till September.
On 11 September, the apex court heard the petitions filed by Ajay Dubey of Bhopal's NGO Prayatna and Simarat Sandhu of the Save the Tiger campaign in Delhi. The petitions challenged the Bombay High Court’s decision which gave the forest department a go-ahead to implement its order to tranquillize or shoot the tigress.
While the petitioners claimed that it has not been established that the corpse was eaten by the tigress and her cubs, the forest department maintained that the big cat was responsible for at least nine deaths. The department said they were trying hard to get to a ‘touching distance’ of the tigress to dart her with a tranquillizer for the last six months, but have failed.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for another petitioner, told the court that even if people entering the forest area get killed by the tigress, that does not make her a ‘man eater’. “A distinction has to be made between a tigress killing a human and a habitual man eater,” he said.
The petitioners urged a Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that if the tigress was shot dead, both her cubs would not be able to survive in the forest. The bench, while refusing to interfere with the high court decision, said the forest department would be bound by their own order to tranquilize her first and, in case of failure, shoot her.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Oct 04, 2018 10:46:10 IST