A “man-eating” tigress was killed after an intensive two-year hunt in India, leading to a backlash against those responsible for her death, even while villagers appeared relieved.
The six-year-old cat and her two cubs are believed to have killed 13 people since 2016, mainly graziers walking with their cattle through the forest. Because of the attacks, which left many of the victims dismembered, farmers were on high alert over the previous months, and were told to come in early from the fields and only travel in groups.
Known as “Avni” or “T-1”, the tigress had been roaming the jungles of Maharashtra, a state in west-central India, evading capture despite an exhaustive and large-scale hunt. More than 100 camera traps and a heat-seeking drone were deployed to track the big cat, and armed men patrolled the region 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As part of their latest strategy, officials used bottles of the cologne Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein to lure her in, as it evidently contains civetone, a pheromone that is known to attract jaguars. Perhaps attracted by the scent, the tigress was spotted by locals earlier this month and a patrol team of hunters and rangers stationed themselves in a vehicle on the road where she had been seen.
Once they identified her by her stripes, the team shot her with a tranquilizer gun. But according to reports, the shot startled her and she bolted towards the vehicle, leading one man to fire a lethal shot from roughly 30 feet away.
While many villagers are relieved, some activists are unhappy about the killing by a controversial hunter and believe greater care should have been taken to save T-1.
“It is nothing but a straight case of crime,” Maneka Gandhi, India’s minister for women and child development wrote on Twitter. “This ghastly murder has put two cubs at the edge of a sad death in the absence of their mother.”
Tigers are an endangered species, though their numbers have been rising in India after conservation efforts and stricter laws were put in place. Sixty percent of the world’s tiger population lives in India; however, most do not live in protected areas, which puts them in direct conflict for territory with locals living in rural areas.