Published: 05th November 2018
#RIPAvni: How our species has managed to make the world a cruel place for all the others
The question here is not whether we need to prioritise human life over an animal's but how we decide to identify a threat
Avni fought back. She didn't go down easy. But did she really have to be put down at all? Mother of two cubs, the tigress was blamed for 13 human deaths but there is no forensic evidence that she killed all 13. Some claim that there are no concrete pieces of evidence that suggest that the big cat was a man-eater and killed the human beings intentionally.
Avni's (T1) killing was shrouded with a hoard of controversies — Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, was the authorised hunter, not his son Asghar, who actually shot her, experts performing the post-mortem examination found discrepancies with the wound and the narrative, They even suspect that the dart was manually put on the tigress post-mortem. A full-blown investigation has been initiated on the killing in Yavatmal.
But this is not a stray issue. Here are a few instances where animals died because men were either negligent or were panicking:
On the same day as Avni's killing, a tigress was beaten to death and run over in a village in Uttar Pradesh on November 4 after it mauled a man to death. The tigress attacked a 50-year-old man near the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and angry villagers allegedly beat up forest guards, snatched a tractor and then ran over the 10-year-old tigress when they found her. They also beat up the animal with sticks, reported NDTV.
At least seven elephants died of electrocution after coming in contact with a live wire near Kamalanga village in Odisha's Dhenkanal district, a forest official said on October 27. Not rectifying the sagging lines and non-cabling of transmission lines led to the tragedy in Meramundali section of Dhenkanal range. The carcasses were found lying in a ditch the next morning. Odisha Crime Branch arrested three persons including two officials of Meramundali forest range in connection with the tragic deaths.
On June 18, forest officials learned about the death of an adult female and sub-adult male elephant due to electrocution at Venniyar beat in the Cumbum east range. Forest officials said since the carcasses of the elephants, which they suspect would have died a few months ago, had decayed, a postmortem could not be carried out.
In the second death reported to officials on August 24, a female elephant was suspected to have fallen from a cliff located on a private estate in the Cumbum area. A nine-year-old female elephant was electrocuted in the Cumbum range in Theni district on September 5 when it came in contact with high-voltage cables which were allegedly hanging very low. The incident took place at the same spot where another elephant and a calf were electrocuted.
India is not the only country where animals are getting killed because of ignorance. The killing and public display of a rare Sumatran tiger shocked the world early this year.
Villagers in a remote Indonesian community disemboweled a critically endangered Sumatran tiger on March 6 and then hung the big cat from a ceiling after it attacked a pair of locals. Locals from Hatupangan village in North Sumatra had initially suspected the tiger was a supernatural creature so they followed it to its jungle lair. The tiger — which has been seen around the village since last month — attacked the curious group leaving two villagers seriously injured. Some internal organs were missing from the tiger's body, said authorities, who are investigating the killing.
The question here is not whether we need to prioritise human life over an animal's but how we decide to identify a threat and how long will it take to cut down on animal deaths due to negligence on our part.