The Stories Of Change

Death of Tigress Avni and Why we Should not Let it Go

Recently, a tigress named Avni was killed on order of the Supreme Court. She left her two  10-months old cubs behind. Many more wild animals have been killed recently and they have been paying the high cost of human interference, encroachment and a declining forest cover. Here is why we should not forget these deaths.

According to the World Tiger Fund and Global Tiger Forum, the total number of wild tigers was estimated to be 3,890 in 2016. We have less than 2,500 left in the wild. India is the home for seventy percent of tigers in the world. The tiger was chosen to be India’s national animal to symbolize the power, strength, intelligence, alertness, and grace of the nation.

What caused a decline in the tigers’ population in India?

Going back to 16th century the Mughal Emperor, Jala-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar began a tradition of royal hunting, the Shikari which was followed by the Mughal rulers until the dynasty came to an end. Later on, it continued to be practised by many other rulers in India. After the launch of Project Tiger in 1973 for the conservation of tigers in India, various tiger reservoirs were made to create a safe and healthy environment for the tigers. The aim was to maintain the population of the tigers.

Tigers are now a critically endangered species. The main reason for the cause is that the loss of habitat and encroachment of forests. Human and wildlife live in a close proximity. Mainly because it is easier for the humans to cattle graze and get access to firewood by being in a close proximity of the forest.  When a tiger-human conflict happens, the wildlife is the one who suffers the consequences eventually by being called “man eaters”. The tigers are nocturnal hunters, they travel miles and miles to find their prey like large mammals. Hence, they need a large area to live and survive.

Avni, the mother, shot dead

Avni, the tigress and a mother of two cubs was recently killed after the order by the Supreme Court in the month of September. The order said that the tigress should be shot on sight. She was tagged as the ‘Man Eater’. She was named ‘Avni’ by the activists who were against the order of killing the tigress. She was spotted first in 2012 in the forest of Yavatmal, Maharashtra. It is believed that ‘Avni’ had killed 13 people in the last two years.

She was recently shot dead after three months of massive search operation by the forest department. A team of 150 people was equipped with the latest technology to identify and search the tigress in the forest.

Avni with her cubs | Photo:

The five-year-old tigress left two ten months old cubs behind. Avni was officially known as T1. Her body was taken to a zoo in Nagpur for the post-mortem. According to the World Wildlife Fund, a tiger’s cubs are dependent on their mother for at least two to three years. They cannot live by themselves and cannot hunt without their mother’s crucial life lessons.

Now, there are chances that they might get killed by the other animals or they might die because of starvation. According to the forest department’s order, the Cubs would be shifted to the centre to be kept in the captivity.

Death of more tigers after Avni

In Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh, a tigress was crushed under the tractor after she killed a 50-year-old man in Pilibhit district on  November 2.

On November 15, three cubs died after run over by a speeding train in Nagpur. Forest department has failed to implement guidelines, which were issued five years ago.  It was said that the speed limit of this trains was restricted to 40 kmph in the Gonad-Chandrapur sector to prevent tiger deaths due to train hits.

Two tiger cubs over ten months old were found dead in Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha Reserve on November 21. More tigers were found dead in Bandipur and Nagarahole tiger reserves on November 22. A male tiger aged twelve was found in a weak condition near Gopala Swamy betta and a ten-year-old tiger was found dead due to starvation in Nagarahole forest region. In a single month, there have been deaths of eight tigers in the nation.

Other wild animals meeting the same fate

Not only tigers, but there have also been other wildlife animals suffering due to human occupation of the forest regions. A leopard was alleged to be a “man-eater” in Uttarakhand and private shooters were called to kill it. These are the examples of human intervention leading to an unimaginable loss to the wildlife. It’s time for the government to make a wise decision.

In Chitradurga, Karnataka a bear was beaten and burnt because it was roaming inside the village. The bear climbed up the tree after it was beaten by the villagers. The people set the tree on fire to ensure the bear’s death. This incident took place in the presence of forest department officials.

The forest is being encroached by the people and the wildlife’s existence is decreasing. Man-animal conflict by killing the animals for the survival of the people living in the forest land is the major cause for the deaths of animals and as well as people. It’s not the tigers or wild animals, it is us. Humans are responsible for all this destruction.

What is the solution?

The habitat of the wildlife land needs to be extended. Due to a very limited forest cover, we see wild animals in the cities and villages. Proper safety measure should be in place to handle human-wild conflict.

Killing, poaching, and encroachment of forest is the major cause. It’s still a big shock for the nation about Avni’s death. Was it really necessary to kill her? Many activists fought against the Supreme Court’s order to save Avni. They are still seeking justice for her. What will happen to the cubs? These are the questions, which still remain unanswered. Its time for the government to take proper measure to save our national animal.

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Chaithra Srinivas

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