Cubs could be found soon, but no sight of gun that killed Tigress Avni (T1)

Updated: Dec 20, 2018, 13:40 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

The mission to rescue the cubs will begin in full swing, with the help of an expert veterinarian from Madhya Pradesh and four elephants, from Thursday

T1, also called Avni by activists, was shot dead on November 3
T1, also called Avni by activists, was shot dead on November 3

It's been 46 days since tigress T1 was shot dead by hunter Asghar Ali, and his gun is yet to be submitted to the authorities for ballistic tests. Mercifully, Asghar and his trigger-happy father, Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, are also missing in the efforts to search for T1's cubs. The mission to rescue the cubs will begin in full swing, with the help of an expert veterinarian from Madhya Pradesh and four elephants, from Thursday.

Where's the gun?
T1, also called Avni by activists, was shot dead on November 3 by Asghar. After shooting her, he had returned to Telangana along with his weapon, for which he faced huge criticism from activists attached to the Save Avni Group. The Maharashtra Forest Department also faced criticism for allowing the gun to slip out of their hands. On November 21, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi wrote an email to Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar: "Why are Shafat and his son being allowed to still roam the forests? Are they still your guests in the Maharashtra jungles? They are under inquiry. Why have they not surrendered their weapons to the forest department? Their presence in your state and their defence of you is extremely suspicious."

However, forest department officials told mid-day that following T1's death, the Nawab and his son have not been a part of the operation to rescue the cubs. More than a month-and-a-half later, the weapon has not yet been deposited, confirmed sources from the forest department. The expert committee appointed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to probe T1's death also came down heavily on Asghar, stating said that despite instructions from the Forest Department, he had failed to deposit the guns for forensic examination.

High chances of rescue
Sources confirmed yesterday that the team spotted both cubs. A renewed search for them will begin today, led by Madhya Pradesh vet, Dr Akhilesh. PCCF A K Misra said, "The elephants and vet from MP are already here. A team of scientists from WII is here too. The work of fencing is also complete, and we are expecting the cubs to be rescued anytime now."

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