“Minister wants the tiger dead”, said Singh, a senior bureaucrat Singh from forest ministry, while scanning the landscape of Tippeshwar Tiger Sanctuary in the Yavatmal District of Maharashtra, “now that court has given shoot at sight order.”
“ Sir, I think court has given shoot at sight order only as a last resort; why don’t we make an effort to relocate her first?” pleaded forest ranger, “she also has two cubs.”
“Ranger sahab, thirteen people have lost their lives; minister is under pressure to do something.” Questioned the bureaucrat, “why do you want to save a man eater? Her cubs will also learn to kill humans.”
“Sir, there is no proof, that this tiger is a man eater. Only old tigers that cannot hunt, kill humans. This tiger has two cubs. If humans go where she lives, she may become aggressive.”
Tigress was hungry. She needed to hunt, for herself as well as to feed her two cubs. For sometime she felt something was not right. She heard unfamiliar sounds of elephants neighing, dogs barking, drones whirring. She heard footsteps of people, unknown, unfriendly, people with guns. Avni hid herself and her kids. She came out and walked past the jeep. That is the last time the ranger saw her, the six year old fully grown tigress Avni.
“She is no man eater,” thought the forest ranger. Meanwhile, bureaucrat Singh thanked his stars. “I shall retire with my pension intact; the minister would otherwise have suspended my pension indefinitely.”
Avni the tigress was shot dead in the dead of night, against violation of all protocols. Next morning, news was all over that Avni the tigress was dead.
It is not correct to subject a tiger to the same standard as that of a human. There is no denying that Avni had killed humans. It is true that directive of court was followed and afterall any government is answerable to people that elects them. This cannot be denied that as administrators, one has to take decision that may not always be very pleasing.
But one must discuss the following points:
- The conflict of man and animal is tipping in favor of man. With sophisticated long range weapons, a man shoots down an animal that minds its own business.
- While number of animals are decreasing, number of humans are exploding. Soon humans will start killing each other. Infact, they are doing just that, even now.
- Everyone has a right to protect its territory. A human does so, so does a tiger. If humans go into an area where a tiger lives with her cubs, she is in her right to attack. Being endowed with brain, humans should use better judgement.
- Humans are behaving like a victorious army that marches into conquered territory and plunders.
- Tiger is the national animal of India. All avenues should have been exhausted to protect the animal and relocate it to a zoo. Killing an animal, sounds so barbaric.