Man-eating tiger shot dead in India after massive hunt

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A man-eating tiger that claimed more than a dozen victims in two years has been shot dead in India, sparking controversy over the legality of its killing.

One of India’s most high-profile tiger hunts in decades ended Friday night when the mother of two 10-month old cubs — known to hunters as T1 but Avni to wildlife lovers — was shot dead in the jungles of Maharashtra state.

A team of more than 150 people had spent months searching for T1, using a paraglider and dozens of infrared cameras while sharpshooters had ridden on the backs of elephants.

However disputes quickly erupted after the killing as media reports said the tiger was shot in Yavatmal forest with no attempt to tranquillize her.

India’s Supreme Court had issued a hunting order for T1 — blamed for 13 deaths since June 2016 — in September, ruling that she could be killed if tranquillizers failed. Several appeals were made against the death sentence.

The tiger was killed at night, when tranquillizers are not allowed to be used, according to the Times of India and other media outlets.

T1 is said to have been shot dead by Ashgar Ali Khan, son of India’s most famous hunter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, who was meant to be leading the hunt but was not present Friday night.

Forestry officials and the hunter did not answer calls to give details of the hunt.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests A.K. Mishra told The Indian Express newspaper that a forest staffer had managed to dart the tiger with a tranquillizer at around 11.00 pm.

“But she charged at the team, forcing Ashgar to shoot in self-defense,” he said. “The tigress lay dead in a single shot.”

However, Mishra’s account was contradicted by other reports, while many groups condemned the way the killing was conducted.

The Times of India quoted sources involved in the hunt as saying it looked as though a tranquillizer dart had been put into the tiger’s corpse after the killing. The sources said the dart had not been fired.

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