T1, Avni, a tigress that turned maneater was killed a few days ago. Avni has allegedly killed about 13 people in the Yavatmal area. A shoot on sight order was issued for her, despite being protests against it. Finally on November 2nd, the maneater tigress Avni was shot. The monster was killed and the village was saved. Right?
This is the picture that was shown to us. Now, there is a lot of politics going on over the killing. As the elections come close, certain parties have taken quite an interest in the life of an animal. MNS blamed BJP and Shiv Sena; BJP retaliated yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill.
Image Source: scroll.in
The fact is no one actually cared about the tigress. Everyone has made it political because elections need a new topic from time to time. However, in reality, a tiger was killed and her two 10-month old cubs are now left to die as they are very unlikely to survive without their mother.
“Hey moron, that maneater tigress Avni killed over a dozen people, she had to be shot, okay? When it comes to choosing between a human life and an animal’s, we’ll always choose the human.”
A valid argument. However, is there any value of the animal’s life? I mean, where do we draw the line? How many of them have been killed because we chose our lives over them?
Let’s take a look at Avni’s case. It’s been alleged that she killed 13 people in a span of two years. The maneater tigress Avni was a threat. But let us see what made her a threat. Recently, News18 did a piece on how and why Avni became a man-eater. You can read the original article here.
The article points out how the law against killing cattle is becoming a problem and is a driving cause for tigers to find prey near human residing areas. Their owners, due to Maharashtra’s ban on killing cows, have started abandoning their cattle. These strays then become an easy meal for tigers living in the nearby forests.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
A stray cow right outside the forest boundaries is a much easier prey than say a wild deer. And with a rise in the number of abandoned cattle, it’s basically a buffet for these tigers. This brings them in close proximity to humans and the chances of a confrontation rise exponentially.
Add to that other factors like deforestation, corporates taking over forest lands, villagers going deeper and deeper into the forests for wood, etc and it becomes the perfect situation for a conflict.
Image Source: ToI
Then there’s also the case of the suspicious circumstances under which Avni was killed. The contradictions in forest officer’s statement and post-mortem report do not really help our case either.
Image Source: NDTV
Earlier it was being alleged by the officials that they had to shoot the tiger in self-defense (as it attacked them). The post-mortem report, however, showed that bullet hit Avni while she was facing away from the shooter, contradicting the official’s claims. The report also says that the tranquilizing dart was not shot by any sort of a gun, and is likely to be lodged by hand to cook up a story.
As the investigation about this is currently going on, it’s better to not indulge in social media justice. However, the blatant contradictions in the official’s story and the post-mortem report definitely raise more than a few questions. But perhaps the most important one of them is this: Who’s the bigger threat here – Avni or us?
Avni wasn’t a monster, she was just an animal.
We are the monsters.
Image Source: Causes.com
In 1947, it is estimated that over 40,000 tigers lived in the forests of our country; today there are about 2,226 left. In 70 years, we have killed almost 95% of the tiger population of our country. Compared to the human deaths by tigers since independence, and suddenly it gets difficult to say who exactly is the monster here.
Even if you think that these numbers alone are not enough to label us as the monsters; let’s see the motivation behind the kills.
A tiger usually avoids killing humans, given the risk associated in doing so. Tigers attack human because we are literally breaking into their homes. People have built villages by destroying the forests where these animals live. Tigers don’t go to the village with the intention to kill humans. This is something that we do.
We kill tigers for sport. We kill tigers because we like the pattern of their skin. Hell, we even kill tigers because of in our ridiculous mind some of us believe that its penis is an aphrodisiac.
Sure, a human life is worth more than an animal, but an animal has to have some value, right?
And it’s not just about Avni, or even tigers for that matter. It’s about all of them –
Image Source: NDTV
Image Sources: downtoearth.org.in
Image Source: The Hindu
Image Source: Savetherhino.org
And these are just the ‘popular’ animals, animals people give a damn about. There are thousands of other types of animals that are hunted. We slaughter these animals and are continuing to do so, every day.
What we don’t realize that every animal plays a necessary part in a forest’s ecology. Killing even one species can result in a snowball effect and destroy the entire forest. Moreover, when you kill a tiger, or a leopard or any other animal, you take more than one life. One is of the animal that was killed, other is the babies that depended on it.
Image Source: Pixabay
Avni had two cubs, although the latest report says that they are still alive, it’s hard to say if they would even make it to adulthood. Without their mother, they have a very slim chance to survive, something no one takes into account when shooting an animal.
Image Source: Maxpixel
The maneater tigress Avni was a threat. Understood. She had to go. Understood. I am not even arguing that part. I understand that it’s extremely difficult to rehabilitate a maneater tiger.
They may have captured her for the selective breeding program but let’s face it, a country where people don’t even care about their lives, do you think they would go these lengths to save the life of a tiger, a maneater no less?
I am asking ‘why’. Why did she become a maneater? It’s not like we are a part of a tiger’s regular diet. Tiger rarely attacks humans, much less eat them. Most of them would avoid a conflict with a human. Then why these animals are killing us?
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Keven Law
We killed this one, but what if another one becomes a maneater?
Then another, then another, another….where is it going to end?
Humans are perhaps the only species capable to actually care about living beings other than their own species.
Humans are also the only species capable to destroy the whole planet and everyone on it.
Avni was an animal, incapable to think beyond her own survival. We, on the other hand, have the luxury and capability to care, genuinely care about others.
So we can either start preserving our forests and maintain harmony with our environment or we can continue encroaching and cutting them and kill any animal who becomes a threat.
For now, I think we’re going with option two.