Elusive Gondia man-eater finally shot dead

The elusive man-eater of Gondia that had killed five women between December 15 and January 5 was finally shot dead near Sonjhari Malda village, 25 km from Navegaon National Park, on Saturday.

The end came around 1.30 pm when two sharp-shooters of Bhandara and Gondia police fired nine rounds with AK-47 at the tigress that reportedly came angrily charging at the track-team they were part of after she escaped the tranqullisation dart initially fired at her by Assistant Conservator of Forest Manohar Gokhale.

This is the second time in the past five years that a big cat had to be shot dead following series of human deaths in attacks in Vidarbha's man-animal conflict zones. In 2007, a full-grown tiger was shot in Talodhi area of Chandrapur district after it killed four persons in a month. Over the past five years, four shoot orders were issued, two of them for leopards that were later successfully caged in Chandrapur and Wardha districts.

Saturday's encounter happened at the spot in thick jungle where the tigress had got localised after killing a cow calf two days ago. Incidentally, this is where the second of the five women was killed.

There were emotional scenes after the operation with one of the sharp-shooters whose bullet first put the animal down weeping inconsolably. Other members of the team, including a veterinary doctor and a beat guard, also got emotional.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) S W H Naqvi had issued shoot orders after a series of human deaths in attacks by the animal.

Earlier in the day, the tigress escaped attempt to tranquilise and two rounds of firing around 9.30 am. Weighing about 150 kg and about 240 cm in length, it is estimated to be anything between three and four years of age.

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