Conservation activists are trying to keep a “man-eating” tigress from being killed in India after the country’s Supreme Court granted local forest rangers permission to slaughter the endangered animal.
The tigress, nicknamed T1, is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 13 people in the Yavatmal district in Maharashtra state since January 2016.
According to official records, three of its victims were killed just last month, CNN reports.
In India, the tiger population is strictly protected by the country’s Wildlife Protection Act. Killing one of the animals would require approval from authorities.
T1’s case was reportedly transferred to the Supreme Court after advocates questioned the evidence that was supposed to link the animal to attacks on humans. However, the court ruled on Tuesday that forest rangers are now allowed to shoot the tiger if they fail to capture it.
Earth Brigade’s Sarita Subramaniam has since expressed concerns on whether officials would make a fair attempt to tranquilize and capture the tigress instead of just shoot it outright.
“They (the forest officials) only plan to kill, which we suggested to the court because they have issued an order to hire a hunter,” the founder of the Mumbai-based NGO was quoted as saying.
“If your intention is to capture, why have you hired a hunter?”
Subramaniam and other campaigners have pointed out inconsistencies in the presented evidence, demanding a deeper investigation on the alleged attacks.
“Any animal can be declared a ‘man-eater.’ This labeling is a colonial hangover,” said Subramaniam. “There needs to be a scientific study done with modern technology to label a tiger a ‘man-eater.'”
According to Subramaniam, investigators must carry out a full DNA analysis to identify the species involved in the attack.
“The post-mortem reports said the puncture wounds were a particular size, but wild boars can also attack humans. There are scavengers like hyenas … If they are relying on camera trap images, we need to see the date and time stamps. Everything is just based on the presence of the tiger in the area based on pugmarks.”
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the activists are now planning to file an appeal.
“Any court that issues a shoot-to-kill order does not ever write ‘shoot to kill,’ they always say ‘try and capture, failing which, you sho ot.’ There needs to be a policy where one order is exclusively for capturing and if those attempts have failed, then a separate order is issued for shooting the tiger,” Subramaniam was quoted as saying.
Aside from T1, who is a mother to two cubs, a male tiger called T2 will also be a target for officials. While T2 is not believed to be responsible for any human deaths, it has been seen in the same area. Both tigers were reportedly last seen in a conservation area in Yavatmal.