After a tigress by the name of 'Avni' was accused of being a man-eater and given a death sentence by Maharashtra Forest Department and Bombay High Court, an online petition called Let Avni Live is gaining huge support on social media. The issue raised strong reactions from NGOs and activists all over the country as the story of the tigress made its way to the headlines.

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The T-1 tigress, named Avni has her natural habitat in the Ralegaon area of Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. Reportedly having killed 13 people and given the title of a 'man eater', a 'shoot on sight' order has been issued for the tigress on the grounds of consuming 60 percent of a man's corpse along with 2 of her cubs and killing several more.

Apparently, the dead bodies of the victims found by the forest department have been in the depths of the forest, indicative of cattle taken for grazing into restricted areas and hinting at people encroaching animal territory.

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On 11 September, the Supreme Court heard the petitions that challenged the Forest Department and Bombay High Court's decision filed by Ajay Dubey of Bhopal's NGO Prayatna and Simarat Sandhu of the Save the Tiger campaign in Delhi.

The apex court refused to interfere with the ‘shoot-at-sight’ notice for Avni in the forest and now the hunt for the tigress by over a hundred shooters and tranquilizing experts has begun.

Private hunter Nawab Shafaat Ali Khan from Hyderabad has been reportedly hired by the Maharashtra Forest Department to shoot Avni, a decision that was protested as hundreds of wildlife activists went on march in Nagpur.

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According to reports, the first human killing is said to have happened around June 2016 as the numbers rose by August this year, the forest department had to issue orders to shoot her.

Illustration for #LetAvniLive

Reports claim that the pleas by the petitioners to spare the tigress's life include that her cubs would be left to die in the forest without their mother, DNA tests were only done on 3 bodies out of the 13 which ensured a tiger attack and that no SCAT analysis has been conducted to confirm the feeding habits and understanding of ingested food to determine if Avni has killed humans and for food as a matter of self-defense.

According to reports, there are other factors that also claim why a shooting order on a tigress might be falsely issued in the Ralegaon area specifically. The area which is rampant with many minerals like lime, coal and dolomite allegedly attracts businesses and companies to mine for them and use them for cement, construction and infrastructure. The presence of wild cats in the said regions thwarts the opportunity for mining and cattle grazing in reserved areas.

The support for online petition on Change.Org has been immense as more and more people join the cause to save the tigress. Mona Ambegaonkar, TV actor made a video on Facebook to encourage people to join the cause and support it.

Meanwhile, several other campaigns on social media handles like Twitter and Facebook are also gaining popularity. As the wildlife supporters take it to the streets in metropolitan cities like Delhi, the campaign to #LetAvniLive is on the rise.

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As India Wildlife Week concludes, here's hoping Avni gets the justice she deserves.

You can learn more about the story and campaign below. Sign up to join the #LetAvniLive campaign here.