Kate on Conservation

Uncovering the truth about Avni the tigress and her cubs: Guest Post by Bella Rebell

Avni the tiger campaign to stop the killing

This week, animal advocate Bella Rebell lends her voice on behalf of India’s precious endangered wildlife, exposing the truth behind the shocking circumstances that led to the killing of #AvniTheTigress.

Avni the Tiger – the truth

December 2nd marked one month since Avni the tiger’s murder – and yes, it was cold-blooded murder.

Killed under the pretence that she was a threat to humans, supposedly having killed and eaten multiple people, it has since been proven she was not the man eater they claimed her to be – which is why after killing her, her body was burned on a pyre to destroy evidence.

Only 3 of the 13 people said to be killed by a man eater were shown to have been involved in human/animal conflict with a tiger, and after DNA testing, only 1 person had the DNA from a female tiger on them.

That doesn’t even prove that said person was killed by a tiger.


India’s wider tiger issue

The tag ‘man eater’ was used and abused throughout Indian press to put fear into the public, so that the country could get away with their blood lust slaughter of these endangered tigers. Their aim is to clear the forest of tigers – and in fact all other wildlife too – in order to build a cement factory on the land.

On November 18th, 1972 India named the tiger as its national animal, but much has changed since then.

With a growing population, there are now too many people for the country to handle. India is home to approximately one sixth of the entire world’s population, and there is not enough land to use commercially. This means officials have taken to destroying forests and even sanctuary land in order to profit from it.

india tiger and tiger cubs
Tiger and her cubs, a disappearing sight in India? (NB: tiger pictured here is not Avni).

It goes without saying that these lands and their wildlife are critical to keep in-tact. There are more captive tigers in the U.S. alone than there is in the wild on the entire planet.


What’s happened to Avni’s cubs?

As for Avni’s two little cubs, they would be 11 months old now. I fear the ruthless hunt of their mother by over 50 armed trained hunters, followed by her murder by the vile father/son duo of trophy hunters – instead of wildlife experts safely removing them to proper sanctuary – was so traumatic for them that the worst can only be assumed at this point.

Based on facts by tiger experts worldwide, tiger cubs are still very much “babies” at 10 to 11 months of age, much like domestic kittens. They are completely dependent on their mother for food and training in hunting and how to survive on their own.

Tiger cubs stay with their mothers for at least 18 months. It takes that long for them to learn all the aspects of survival. Avni’s cubs would not have their adult teeth, the teeth that are needed to take down their prey, and in fact, the very teeth needed to eat their prey.

Another sad fact, Avni’s stomach was empty when she was killed, which means these poor souls had not eaten for quite a while prior to her murder. Experts say they would wander round looking for her, cry out for her, and also hide due to the fear factor of being left alone. Her killing left them to wonder in a state of confusion not knowing where their mother was or when/if she would come back.

Nobody has had the heart to come right out and say what I’m saying now, based on all the above facts, it is extremely doubtful that they are alive – in fact it would be a miracle if they were. With no food or liquids in their little bellies for a month, how could they be alive?

They have most definitely starved to death, or already been killed by the same group of hunters as their mother, with their bodies hidden or burned in the same way – in order to hide the truth of what these monsters are doing and the real reasons behind it.

It is not about public safety, but in fact greed and bloodlust by the government and forest management. That land they were on has already been sold, they must clear it of so-called ‘dangerous wildlife’ in order for construction to begin.

In a perfect world, I would like to think that those two dear little souls were secretly rescued against all odds by true wildlife advocates and taken to safety. The odds of that being reality are astronomical….


Justice for Avni

Literally thousands of people have, and will, continue to protest what is happening, with Avni becoming the feline celeb du jour of this cause, much like Cecil the lion was in Africa.

Although the killing of tigers has been going on for quite some time, Avni’s story garnered world attention – perhaps it was because she was a local favourite and had 2 young cubs.

She was a mother, and her children will most certainly evoke empathy in a way that the headline: ‘tigers in distress in India during wildlife-displacing government land grab’ simply does not.

Many advocate groups, both local to India and from abroad, had offered to go in and safely remove Avni, her cubs and any other wildlife at risk and take them to sanctuary at NO COST to India, as they are so critically endangered. Those offers are still on the table for the remaining wildlife at risk.

The local authorities would not and will not allow it, even from their own animal protectors.


Rescuers face closed doors

It seems the authorities want to call all the shots and rule everything in their own way, regardless of the cost to wildlife and the eco-system. They flat out refuse any aid from abroad by easily refusing visas to anyone that offers help.

Wildlife advocate Dan Richardson offered publicly (on his live broadcasts and during live TV interviews he participated in both India and in the UK) to go into the forest himself if need be to get these cubs, Avni and any other tigers and wildlife out and take them to safe havens on his own dime. They would not give him a visa to enter the country.

When he did his silent protest in London right outside the Indian embassy/consulate he had asked them to come out and speak on this issue. Of course they declined, but they watched from the window and had someone taking pictures of all the people in attendance, as if they were trying to record enemies of the state.

On November 22nd, the Times of India reported that 50 local animal activists who held a silent protest for Avni and her cubs were detained and taken to the police station. They were later released after the police had taken their personal info; names addresses etc.

#AvniTheTigress website is still active, still holding protests, gathering petitions and they do not plan to let up until they get justice and expose and stop what is actually happening – the truth of what and why this is going on.

Big Cat Rescue in Florida also has a petition and I believe they were the sanctuary that Dan referred to in his broadcast as being the refuge that offered to take Avni’s cubs and other tigers that could be saved.

What next for India’s tigers?

The most disturbing and telling aspect of this whole national atrocity is the fact that many experts, advocates and sanctuaries have, and are, offering to go in and remove these endangered animals and take them to proper sanctuaries at no cost to India, but they remain blocked.

To me and many others, that is appalling and shows how this is driven by greed and blood lust. It displays intention, apathy, and a blatant disregard for India’s “national animal” – and all other wildlife in these forests – and a blatant disregard for their own eco systems and natural preservation of land, forests and wildlife.

Tigers photo, Tiger time

As with many other countries dealing with these issues, their lack of willingness to take outside aid appears to be entirely for one reason: to hide and cover up what they are really doing and why they do it. All of India should hang their heads in shame for this, and indeed the disparity of the animals and people that live there. It is inexcusable and they must be held accountable.

Myself, and many others will not rest until the truth is out.

Join 144,565+ others in signing the petition to save India’s tigers from a similar fate: Click here to sign.


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2 thoughts on “Uncovering the truth about Avni the tigress and her cubs: Guest Post by Bella Rebell

    1. I know, I was utterly shocked to learn the extent of it! Heart-breaking indeed. I hope more is done to bring this situation to light in the coming months.

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