Lets accept this fact: Indians, particularly those in North India have a fascination for man Eaters.
The reason behind this fascination may or may not be the interestingly translated tales of Maneater tigers of Uttarakhand, by Abhay Kumar Dubey. That’s why every time a death happens in Corbett National Park, we start thinking about a man eater. A man eater tiger on a prowl for its next kill!
In the past one and half month, at least nine people have been killed by tigers in UP and Uttarakhand. At least, seven to eight of these are being attributed to a particular man-eater tigress.
The Man Eater Tigress !
Yet another person was killed by a tiger late Sunday morning, some 20-25 km from the spot where the west Uttar Pradesh man-eater tigress made its last kill three days ago. The death was reported from inside Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand. The Wildlife experts suspect the attacker was a different tiger, a male who may have previously killed a woman in the area on January 14.
Corbett National Park’s field director Samir Sinha said the attack took place between 11 and 11.30am near a road that links the main Kalagarh dam on Ramganga river with the saddle dam in the core reserve area. The victim, Ram Charan, 45, was a worker for a contractor with the irrigation department. He was travelling in a vehicle with the contractor and they had stopped on the way. Ram Charan possibly was relieving himself, when the tiger struck.
People nearby rushed to his rescue on hearing his screams, but he was dead by the time they reached him. An ex gratia relief of Rs 3 lakh has been announced to the deceased’s family.
Connecting the Dots with a Man Eater Tiger in the Mind
If the distance between the two places is measured in a straight line, then the spot of the recent kill is about 15km from the site where the UP man-eater tigress’s killed its last human being (in Sahuwala forest range of Bijnor district) on Thursday night.
Since a tiger doesn’t travel in a straight line, owing to thick forest and other natural obstacles to straight line path, the experts are wary of attributing the two deaths to the same animal, the Tigress active in the UP area. But such is the pressure of the locals, that they can’t rule out that possibility either. The experts connected with the Wild Life department know that the sooner they tag the tigress as man eater, and shoot or cage her, the earlier they will get some sleep.
Our Fascination for Man Eater Tigers, making our Tigers Pay the Price!
The forest where the man is killed is populated by tigers. It’s unlikely, although not impossible, that the tigress would have traversed through territories of other tigers to get to the Kalagarh spot,” said Bivash Pandav, a wildlife biologist with Wildlife Institute of India. “We are not rushing to any conclusion,” said Corbett National Park’s field director Samir Sinha. “Our priority would be to establish the identity of the tiger. We are placing camera traps in the area to get pictures. Besides, forest staff would try to gather more information by patrolling on foot and on elephants,” he added.
So what is this hurry of thrusting upon the tigress some remote possibility, if not the impossibility?
The Answer is: Humans.
If a tiger kills a human, even when the human roams inside some protected forest, makes the animal the culprit.
The moment an ex gratia relief is announces for the deceased family, the locals start pressuring the Wildlife department tag the animal as man eater. This is somewhat ironical, as it’s the human who most of the times encroaches upon the wild habitat — For commute, fuel or fodder.
No matter where a wild animal attacks a human being, the fault is always that of the animal. A typical Indian mindset, which always sees the Thorn’s fault (in Hindi, “mere pair mein Kanta chubh gaya” meaning “A Thorn pierced into my foot”. Unlike another statement formation (in Hindi “Vakya Sanrachna”), which says “I stepped upon a Thorn”. The Thorn didn’t pierce your foot on its own, you are the one who actually stepped on it. Because of your carelessness).
This mindset is costing our wild cats.
We need to protect humans, but for a better environment, we need to protect our wild life too. For this we must respect the habitats of wild cats; and should not be too fascinated with man eater tigers. If we keep worshiping hunters like Jim Corbett, and the contemporary members of his clan, then we will see tigers or leopards as villains. Which they are surely not.
In a world with a continuously exploding human population and a continuously shrinking wild life, humans need to become a little forgiving. And not portray the animal the villain all the time. Deep inside our hearts, we know the truth.
PS: What is more valuable to us — Hunters or Wildlife? The answer is: Wildlife.
Thus can I request the parents not to introduce their kids to the heroic tales of Hunters? I Think I can. We need conservators and not hunters. Right?