Forest rangers in India are desperately hunting for a tigress called Avni, also referred to as T1. The five-year-old scavenger is believed to be behind horrific deaths of villagers around the Pandharkawada jungle in central India.
According to reports, the animal “weighs around 300 pounds” and is believed to be a “man-eater”, as described by Naveen. P, a wildlife writer and author. However, there is no official government data to support this high death toll. The tigress has gone missing in the dense jungle area of Maharashtra and caused mass panic in the town of Pandharkawada, where bodies have been turning up with missing limbs and claw marks. However, it is unsure if all of the deaths are tiger-related as a signal animal has not been known to cause so many human fatalities before.
Endless efforts to capture T1 have been made in the past, including employing one of India’s best-known game hunters. Authorities have tried to track and tranquilise her using camera traps, expert shikaris (Indian hunters), and a thermal imaging drone. They have even fielded elephants mounted with veterinarians armed with tranquilliser guns to track her down, none of whom have been successful so far.
The desperate hunt is now hoping to try a very unusual bait; the Calvin Klein fragrance Obsession. Calvin Klein contains a pheromone called civetone, which was first derived from the glands of a cat-like mammal, and is now most often created synthetically. The compound, with its musky odour, is one of the world’s oldest perfume ingredients and happens to be totally gripping to big cats. Big cats are drawn to the scent and then proceed to musk themselves against its scent in order to replace it with their own, according to Miguel Ordeñana, a biologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
Obsession’s feline appeal was confirmed in 2003 when a curator at New York’s Bronx Zoo tested the effects of 23 perfumes on two cheetahs. Estée Lauder’s Beautiful performed the worst, distracting them for a mere two seconds. Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps did well, keeping the cats preoccupied for 10.4 minutes, but Obsession performed the best. The cheetahs got plainly obsessed over the scent, spending on an average 11.1 minutes inspecting the fragrance. Since then, the cologne has been used by wildlife authorities to encourage wild cats to spend more time close to cameras and sightings have increased manifold.
While Indian animal activists have created an uproar that the animal should be not trapped or killed, the Supreme Court has ruled that should capture prove difficult in this particular case; the animal should be destroyed.
Officials hope that the Calvin Klein fragrance, along with the use of two special Italian sniffer dogs, will help end the tiger’s reign of terror.
By Anshu Sachdeva.