Man-eater shot dead in Gondia

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 after she escaped the tranqullisation dart fired at her by Assistant Conservator of Forest Manohar Gokhale.

This is the second time in past five years that a big cat had to be shot following human deaths in attacks in Vidarbha's man-animal conflict zones.

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.

Earlier in the day, the tigress escaped an attempt to tranquilise and two rounds of firing. Weighing about 150 kg and about 240 cm in length, it is estimated to be aged between three and four.

Honorary wildlife warden of Gondia Savan Bahekar, who was in the track team, said: "We were concentrating on the place for two days. After the calf kill was found, trap cameras were installed. A camera captured her image. So, we were waiting for our chance to get her. This morning, when we were out to check the camera, we spotted her." The tigress escaped after a tranquilisation dart was fired but returned later. "Gokhale fired a dart which just touched her body. Angered, she charged at us. It was then that bullets were fired. She lay dead within seconds."

I'm saddened no end: Commando

"I can't tell you how sad I am today. As an anti-Naxal commando, I have been wandering through forests in Gadchiroli, Gondia, Bhandara and even in Chhattisgarh for 15 years. Never ever has any animal harmed me. And today, I had to shoot the king of jungle. After I fired..., I couldn't control and wept like a child, I am overcome by a sense of guilt," said Suresh Atram, commander of the C-60 commando unit of Bhandara police, who put the animal down.

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