Hyderabad: City-based private hunter Asghar Ali Khan, who shot tigress T1 aka Avni in Maharashtra on November 2 this year, did so in a likely ‘pre-planned, pre-meditated manner,’ a damning report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has indicated.
In one of its harshest comments, the NTCA report said: “Asghar was fully prepared with two guns to shoot the animal.”
A NTCA committee, headed by Assistant Inspector General of Forests, Hemant Kamdi, was set up earlier in November to investigate the “eliminating” of the tigress in Pandharkawda forest area of Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. It submitted its report on November 28. ‘Telangana Today’ had first reported on November 29 on the basic conclusions of the committee.
The report practically threw out the self-defence theory that Asghar Ali Khan and his father, ‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan, also a private hunter, had propagated in the days that followed the killing. They had claimed in multiple interviews to media, that T1, after being shot at by a tranquiliser dart, charged at the gypsy vehicle in which the team including Asghar was moving, forcing Asghar to shoot the tigress “in self-defence.”
Exposing the ‘shot in self-defence’ theory for what it was, the committee said “on that day the tigress was not aggressive,” that its behaviour “was natural” and the tigress continued to move on its chosen natural path “snarling and growling.” Even this snarling and growling was “possibly because of disturbance due to dart, moving vehicle and spotlight.”
The NTCA committee noted that in his statement, Asghar had said “tranquilising of the animal was not his duty.” It, however, said Asghar’s primary duty was to tranquilise T1 and only if this attempt is unsuccessful, should he attempt to eliminate T1.
On November 2, “at no point” was “Asghar carrying darting rifles” and the responsibility was given to Sheikh who was not authorised in the first place, to tranquilise the animal. Sheikh’s authorisation was only limited to identifying the tigress, the report said.
T1 was darted around 11 pm by Sheikh and shot dead by Asghar within three to five seconds gap without monitoring the animal during the induction period (of the immobilising drugs in the dart).
Several wildlife veterinarians ‘Telangana Today’ spoke with were unanimous that it takes about 10 minutes for a tranquiliser dart to immobilise an animal if everything is done right.