Report by NTCA has found a series of unauthorised actions that led to the killing of Avni, the alleged man-eating tigress, in Maharashtra last month.
New Delhi: The National Tiger Conservation Authority has submitted its final report on alleged man-eating tigress Avni’s killing in November, striking down the Maharashtra forest department’s claims that the act was committed in self-defence.
The report has found that the weapon used by Asghar Ali Khan to kill the six-year-old tigress, also called T-1, was unauthorised, that veterinary drugs were handled by unauthorised persons, and no proper planning was done to dart and capture Avni and her cubs.
The scathing observations in the report fly in the face of the forest department’s claims that Avni’s killing was done following all procedures.
“The dart was fired from approximately 12.8 metres distance when T-1 was on its natural path crossing road, probably moving towards nallah (water source). T-1 continued movement after darting on its natural path while snarling and growling at the team probably because of disturbance due to dart, moving vehicle and spot light,” the report stated.
“Within 3-5 seconds, Asghar Ali Khan took one of the guns and shot the T-1 from the moving vehicle in sitting position. The T-1 was stunned by the impact and died on the spot. Evidences collated from site, videos taken soon after the incident and recreation of events strongly supports the above observation.
“In view of the facts, the firing in self-defence is doubtful. Also, it is evident from the provisional post mortem report that the bullet trajectory is at an obtuse angle from side of the animal entering from backside of the left scapula and penetrating towards front of right scapula. In case the animal was shot on attack, the bullet trajectory will go from front to the caudal part of the body.”
The NTCA further said: “The T-1 was seen multiple times on 02/11/2018 during daytime. Despite this, no proper planning was done for darting and capture of T-1 and cubs. There was no wildlife manager, veterinarian or biologist in the team.
“The team was not equipped to deal with the sedated tiger; team was not having reversal drugs, stretcher, capture cage, net, and man power to locate T-1 after tranquilisation. The rapid response team was not available. None of the team members was aware about induction phase, handling and care of immobilised animal and managing post sedation emergencies.
“Only back up team was of six labourers equipped with stick at a distance of approximately 1 km and reached to the T-1 elimination spot after 45 minutes after shooting. Therefore, it is evident that the darting of T-1 by the team is without adequate preparedness and not adhering to the SOP of NTCA.”
The report also raised questions over the veterinarians involved in the operation.
“There was no operational coordination among veterinary professionals and the team which eliminated T-1 on 2/11/2018,” it said.
“The veterinary professionals managed to habituate T-1 to a predefined area on Borati-Warud road and planned the capture on the morning of 03/11/2018. Conversely, due to missing co-ordination, team which eliminated T-1 intervened on 02/11/2018 in the night hours itself. The divisional manager, Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra, failed to intervene and strengthen plan for capture on 03/11/2018.”
It further found that the darting of T-1 was “unauthorised”, as Mukhbir Sheikh, the person who darted the tigress, was only authorised to identify T-1 or her cubs.
While the veterinarian who prepared the dart had explicitly asked Sheikh to use the dart in his presence, “nor then Mukhbir Sheikh or Asghar Ali Khan (whose primary duty was to carry out efforts to tranquilise and capture T-1) cared for the advice of expert. Non-adherence to the advice of expert is failing on the part of team eliminated T-1 especially Mukhbir Sheikh and Asghar Ali Khan”, the report said.
It also questioned how Asghar Ali Khan used his shooter dad Shafat Ali Khan’s gun without authorisation.
“The weapon used by Asghar Ali Khan to shoot T-1 was licensed on his father Shafat Ali Khan. Shri Shafat Ali Khan was not present with the team which eliminated T-1 is on 02/11/2018. Asghar Ali Khan has not produced any authorisation from his father to use the gun in his absence. Mr Asghar Ali Khan used the unauthorised weapon to eliminate T-1,” it said.
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