The jungles of Maharashtra have been stalked by a "man-eating" tiger for over two years. After 13 deaths, a ruling from India's Supreme Court, and a few bottles of Calvin Klein cologne, the feared tigress is dead.
The tiger – known as “T-1” to hunters and “Avni” to animal rights activists – was shot dead on Friday following months of hunting by a military-style team of 150 people, drones, sharpshooters, camera traps, bulldozers, and jeeps, the Times of India reports.
T-1 had been blamed for the deaths of at least 13 people, namely male farmers, since June 2016. With increasingly more human-animal conflicts in the area and mounting fears of these attacks, India’s Supreme Court issued a hunting order for the tiger saying she could be killed if tranquilizers failed. Last month, wildlife officials almost resorted to an imaginative plan to lure the tigress with the scent of Calvin Klein's Obsession after an experiment in the US suggested an ingredient in the cologne, civetone, could be used to attract big cats.
The original idea was to capture her alive using tranquilizers, however, things didn’t go to plan (as you might expect). The patrol team headed over to a nearby village at around 11pm after receiving reports from locals. They located her and managed to shoot the tiger with a tranquilizer dart. According to them, T-1 let out a roar and charged for the hunters’ jeep. At this point, she was promptly shot dead by the son of Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, one of India’s most famed hunters.
T-1 was taken to the nearby city of Nagpur where her body was cremated after a post-mortem.
People living in the nearby area are understandably relieved at the death, celebrating the news with cheers and fireworks. On the other hand, the hunt has been the subject of heated opposition from conservationists and animal lovers. Activists appealed against the Supreme Court ruling but to no avail. In their eyes, this is more about hunting than safety. Many also claim that there's actually very little evidence she was even responsible for the deaths.
“It’s a murder, poaching,” said Prayag Hodigere Siddalingappa, a senior veterinarian and forensic expert, according to The Telegraph.
“How did they do it without the presence of a vet? How could they identify the tigress at night? How did they do it after sunset? The tiger runs away after being darted, it doesn’t charge back at you.”
The much-hyped story of T-1 is quickly coming to a close, however, the wider problem is far from over. India’s human population is booming, while its tigers are running out of space. More people means more land is required for farming and infrastructure, leading to rapid deforestation. Equally, the latest tiger census in India suggests the tiger population rose from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014. However, this may simply be related to better sampling methods.
As a consequence of this, India nervously awaits even more human-tiger conflict.