Avni was shot from behind; autopsy nails forest dept

Avni was shot from behind; autopsy nails forest dept

Tigress Avni was shot from behind when she was moving away from the sharpshooter, reveals the report of an independent expert.

The sensitive report spells trouble for the Maharashtra Forest Department (MFD), as it demolishes its two claims about the operation — that an attempt was made to shoot a tranquilliser dart and the team fired in self-defence when the tigress charged at them.

A report on the post-mortem submitted by Nagpur-based wildlife biologist Milind Pariwakam of the Wildlife Conservation Trust contradicts both the claims of the MFD about the November 2 killing of Avni (T1), who was dubbed a man-eater and ordered to be shot.

The post-mortem was conducted at the Gorewada Zoo in Nagpur by Ajay Phoharkar, lifestock development officer, veterinary polyclinic, Nagpur; Dr S V Upadhye, associate professor and deputy director, Wildlife Research and Training Centre, Nagpur; Dr P M Sonkusale, assistant professor, department of pathology, Nagpur Veterinary College; and Dr B M Kadu, veterniary officer (Wildlife), Nagpur.

Pariwakam was called in as a witness by the chief wildlife warden, Maharashtra/Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife).

The report — a copy of which is in possession of DH — states that only one bullet was found in the carcass. “The path from the entry to the place where the bullet was lodged indicates that the trajectory is at an obtuse angle (as measured from the direction of the tiger’s head) to the axis of the body (spinal axis, nose to tail)... the place where the bullet was lodged and the trajectory of the bullet show that the animal was facing away from the person who fired the bullet,” the report states. 

On the dart, the report points out that it was found with the cannula piercing the skin on the left thigh. The dart was empty and no liquid was observed inside the barrel. The plunger of the dart was seen fully pushed towards the cannula of the dart. “...There was no haemorrhage observed in the muscles at the darting site. Dart fired from a syringe projector (tranquillising rifle) always leaves a significant and obvious haematoma, which was not observed in this case,” it states.

The MFD officials, including principal chief conservator of forest (Wildlife) A K Mishra, besides Hyderabad-based hunter and sharpshooter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan and his son Asghar Ali, who shot the tigress, had maintained that the animal had to be shot in self-defence.

Maharashtra’s Finance, Planning and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, too, had claimed that the teams had to open fire as the darting failed and the tigress charged at the team.