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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said the tiger Avni was killed "illegally to satisfy a hunter's lust for blood", in contempt of court and in apparent violation of the Wildlife Protection Act.

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated", Rahul Gandhi tweeted quoting Mahatma Gandhi. This is patently illegal.

Talking to PTI, Mungantiwar said Gandhi's criticism "stems from her lack of information" on the issue and asserted neither he, as a minister, nor any of the secretaries in his department have the right to order such killings. While there is little doubt in Avni's case that the tigress was responsible for human killings, we need to consider the larger debate surrounding the intensifying conflict between humans and wild animals.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday expressed his sadness over the decision to kill Avni, saying they will launch an investigation to check for lapses in the procedure followed. Interestingly, the tigress was killed not by the man tasked to do so, but his son.

She said that she will take Avni's killing 'legally, criminally as well as politically'.

Officials hoped to take her alive because she was known to travel with two 10-month-old cubs.

The PCCF order had stated that tigress' cubs should be tranquillised first, as opposed to the CCF order which said the big cat should be tranquillised first.

However, Avni appears to have been shot during the night, between sunset and sunrise, which is prohibited under the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) protocol.

They also rejected the government's argument that Avni was rightly classified a man-eater because she devoured 60 per cent of the humans she allegedly killed.

The Maharashtra Forest Department has nothing to do with the cases, if any, against him, Mungantiwar said. Rangers were called to a place near Borati village after residents spotted the man-eating tiger, the BBC reported. "But they are not to be shot, only tranquilised and this needs to be done at the earliest to ensure their good health".

Jerryl A Banait, who had approached the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court on capturing Avni, said the cubs are waiting for their mother to return and are now starving.

It said the department got a message at 11.30 pm after which senior officials and others were rushed to the spot.

In September this year, the Supreme Court had said Avni could be shot at sight, which prompted a flurry of online petitions seeking pardon for the tigress.