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Tigress Avni, believed to have been responsible for the deaths of at least 13 people in Maharashtra in the past two years, was finally killed on Friday night in Yavatmal after a massive hunt that lasted weeks.

In September, the Supreme Court said that Avni could be shot on sight, prompting a flurry of online petitions. Forest officials had activated ground personnel, drones, elephants and expert shooters to hunt down the tigress, after getting the orders of shoot-on-sight for the wild animal on Sept 4.

Officials said the post-mortem of the tigress would be conducted at Nagpur's Gorewada rescue centre.

The question whether the tigress should be tranquillized or shot and killed reached before the Supreme Court in September.

Since June 2018, Maharashtra has witnessed multiple cases of a man-eating tigress on loose and it was concluded that tigress T1 was behind the killings.

"Avni was shot dead by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali, son of famous sharp-shooter Nawab Shafat Ali, at compartment no 149 of Borati forest under the jurisdiction of the Ralegaon police station", a police official said.

The BBC reported that T-1 and her two cubs killed three people in Pandharkawada, located in the Yavatmal district in India.

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The state forest department had hired an expert hunter and sharpshooter, and mounted an extensive operation involving almost 200 personnel, trap cameras, drones, a pack of trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider to trace her, broadcaster NDTV reported. The sources said the dart had not been fired.

Wildlife activist and medico Jerryl A. Banait, who had filed a public interest litigation jointly with NGO Earth Brigade Foundation (EBF), said that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)'s rules have been grossly violated in the killing of Avni.

She was a six-year-old mother of two cubs. Biologists and the Forest Department officials who have surveyed the area over the past few years say that there is only one other tiger there, a male tiger.

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".

PETA India coordinator Meet Ashar termed Avni's killing as "illegally satisfying a hunter's lust for blood".

On the debate of man-versus-animals conflict, he said it was the duty of the government to end this conflict rather than kill the animals, hacking forest trees, even in Mumbai, in the name of improving infrastructure, and giving away 88 hectares of forest land for industrial use.


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