Amid online outrage over the killing of Tigress Avni by the Maharashtra government, state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Sunday said she was shot dead after all attempts to tranquilise her failed and she attacked officials.
On Friday, the tigress, T1, as she was known officially, was shot dead by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali in compartment no 149 of Borati forest under the jurisdiction of Ralegaon police station in the state's Yavatmal district.
Mungantiwar said nobody in the forest department wanted to kill Avni and hundreds of personnel from the department had been trying to capture her alive for the last three months.
The tigress has reportedly killed 13 people in the past two years
"Ministers and secretaries do not sit in Mumbai and protect forest and animal species. It is done by farmers and Adivasis. In this case, there was a lot of unrest among them. We didn't want them to eventually become enemies of wildlife," Mungantiwar said.
He added that it was the Centre and the Supreme Court that laid down stringent guidelines to kill the tigress.
On being asked about the two cub of Anvi, Mungantiwar said the two were now nearly 11 months old and capable of survival in the wild.
Mungantiwar also took a dig at the NGOs that have criticised the the state government for the killing. He said the government has been at the forefront of saving tigers on a mission mode and has roped in film megastar Amitabh Bachchan for the purpose.
"When we plant trees, NGOs do not come forward and lend a helping hand. When we plan programmes for saving endangered species, they do not say a word. We could not have let humans die to save an animal," he said.
Organisations such as the PETA India condemned the killing. "Avni was killed illegally satisfying a hunter's lust for blood in possible contempt of court and in apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority," said the organisation’s lead emergency response coordinator Meet Ashar in a statement on Saturday.
(With with PTI inputs)