The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the Bombay High Court’s decision, rejecting a plea to restrain the Maharashtra Forest Department from going ahead with shoot-at-sight orders for a “man-eater” tigress in Pandharkawda forest that has already claimed at least nine lives in the Ralegaon forest area of Yavatmal district.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta rejected the plea by NGO Earth Brigade Foundation challenging the September 6 order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. The forest department has claimed that the six-year-old tigress, identified as T1, along with two of her nine-month-old cubs, have consumed 60 per cent of a human corpse, that led it to declare her a “man-eater”.
The question whether the tigress, which claimed three lives last month, should be tranquilized or shot and killed reached before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The apex court heard the petitions challenging the High Court’s recent decision giving a go-ahead to the forest department to implement its order to tranquilize or shoot the tigress.
The petitioner contended that the High Coutt order upholding the shoot-at-sight orders issued by the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) was “illegal and arbitrary and deserves to be set aside”. According to the forest department, T1 and her two cubs have already claimed at least nine lives. Officials declared her a “man-eater” after concluding the tigress and cubs had consumed 60 per cent of one of its human victims.
The petitioners, however, claimed that the three deaths attributed to the animal in the last one month took place in the reserve areas which is the natural habitat for the tigress. Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Anand Grover said even if people entering the forest area get killed by the tigress, it does not make her a “man-eater”. “A distinction has to be made between a tigress killing a human and a habitual man-eater,” he said.