Avni was shot in a hurry: NTCA

Avni was shot in a hurry: NTCA

The report blamed poor capture techniques and lack of trained manpower for a delay of one year that ultimately saw the tigress gunned down after procedural lapses.

More than a month after tigress Avni was killed in the forests of Yavatmal district, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has said that the shot on the tigress was taken in a hurry and standard operating procedures were violated.

"From the reconstruction of the movement of Avni (T1) and final position of the body of T1, it was moving away from the road and vehicle on its traditional walk path while it was shot. On that day the tigress was not aggressive, and the shown behaviour by the tigress was natural as the animal was hit by a dart and they were moving towards the direction of the animal. The natural reaction of the tiger was mistaken, and the shot was taken in a hurry by the inexperienced Asghar Ali Khan," a report of the three-member committee of the MoEFCC's National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) said.

The report blamed poor capture techniques and lack of trained manpower for a delay of one year that ultimately saw the tigress gunned down after procedural lapses.

The MoEFCC formed a three-member committee comprising O P Kaler, former additional chief conservator of forests; Jose Louies, deputy director and chief wildlife control division and communication, Wildlife Trust of India; and Hemant Kamdi, assistant inspector general, NTCA regional office, Nagpur, who was the Convenor.

The committee also observed that the veterinary team including the forest officials supporting them made creditable efforts to capture the tigress alive by tranquilizing the animal.

"They have done tracking, set up machans and applied traditional techniques and also experimented with various methods to facilitate a live capture of the animal. The forest department team provided backup support to the field team with a base camp and adequate man power since the beginning of the incident of tracking and capture attempt of T1," the report stated.

The report pointed out that the capture attempts with inadequate capacity building and lack of trained manpower and appropriate capture technique lead to delay and the operation prolonged for more than a year which ultimately diluted the intensity of the program and casualness developed leading to many procedural lapses which ultimately resulted in shooting of tigress T1.

It said that the weapon used by Asghar Ali Khan to shoot T1 was licensed on his father Nawad Shafat Ali Khan.

"Shafat Ali Khan was not present with the team, which eliminated T1 on November 2. Asghar Ali Khan has not produced any authorization from his father to use the gun in his absence. Asghar Ali Khan used the unauthorized weapon to eliminate T1," the report said.

The committee pointed out that T1 was darted at around 11 pm by Mukbhir Sheikh and shot dead by Asghar Ali Khan within three to five seconds gap without monitoring T1 during the induction period.

"Asghar was fully prepared with two guns to shoot the animal. As per his statement, he does not remember the make, model and specifications of these two guns. He was also not aware which gun he used to fire at the animal. He admitted that he was tensed and not expected to take a shot and that was not planned. He also admitted that when he took the shot, they had crossed the tiger," the committee said in a 12-page report.