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People’s love for ‘superstar’ tigers and what it can teach us

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The death of PTRF_84, a three-year-old tigress, at Pench Tiger Reserve last week brings the curtains down on one of the most popular “tiger stories” of recent times. The tigress was not an ordinary one, but the “cub of Avni”. The mother had been shot down in November 2018 in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha, as she had been involved in several human deaths, prompting an outcry about the cost of human-animal conflicts.

Left without their mother, the cubs, including PTRF_84, were reared in captivity. After two years of rewilding, she was released into the forest, but she could survive only a day — she was killed in a turf fight with another animal. The life and death of Avni and her daughter, and the response it evoked in ordinary people, is an illustration of an increasing emotional entanglement with tigers. For the forest department and conservation officials, however, the baggage of public sentiments is not always welcome.

The complete article was published by The Indian Express on March 17, 2021.