On Hunting Man-Eating Tigers In India

Indian tiger (courtesy aceguide.blogspot.com)

“No one has lived long enough to describe the tiger in detail, but some things about her are known. She traverses great stretches of land in a day and is comfortable wandering deep into human territory,” nytimes,com reports. “After killing her first three or four people, she began to eat her victims — starting rump-first, one expert said, as she would a deer.” Makes sense to me: that’s where the meat is and a tiger’s gonna do what a tiger’s gonna do. The Times reports that more tigers are doing more of what tigers do in India as of late. Who could have predicted such a thing? Well . . .

Conflicts with humans are arising precisely in the handful of places where the endangered Bengal tiger population has rebounded thanks to careful conservation efforts, said Ullas Karanth, a wildlife biologist who runs the India program of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“These conflicts are the price of conservation success,” he said.

Tell that to the family of the Ram Charan, a man who “got out of a car to relieve himself on a roadside in the Jim Corbett National Park. When his companions ran toward his screams, they found him some 60 feet into the forest, the flesh torn off his thighs.” Charan didn’t make it. Nor did a number of other locals, who spent their last moments on earth being dragged into the jungle by a half-ton alpha predator.

The logical answer: shoot the cats. No, sorry. How politically incorrect of me is that? Before detailing the gruesome tiger-related deaths, the Times’ forwards Mr. Karanth’s solution to the man-eating feline fallout of his successful conservation efforts.

Where conservation efforts have helped shore up tiger populations, the hulking, half-ton cats encroach on settlements that are unaccustomed to them. In the wake of each attack, the tigers are met with a noisy furor, instead of the subdued, systematic dragnet used by earlier generations long used to living near tigers to guide them back into the forest.

“What works, in my opinion, are like surgical operations, you need a small team of trained people on elephants to quietly allow the tiger to stay in the area,” Mr. Karanth said in a telephone interview. “Instead, mobs come, then there is a military campaign, they keep pushing the animal and make it harder and harder to catch.”

Not surprisingly, the predated villagers have another idea.

“They say, ‘Give us guns, and we will kill the tigress,’ ” said Mr. Singh [top bureaucrat from the neighboring district of Moradabadsaid]. “They say, ‘If your family members were getting killed, you would realize what kind of pain we are in.’ They are angry and afraid, so their tempers are running high.”

Yeah, I can see that. Unarmed sugar cane workers providing sustenance for animals revered by people who know nothing of hard labor might feel a bit of antagonism towards the international conservation community. No wonder some communities have a different reaction to the whole man-eating tiger thing

Across the state border in Uttar Pradesh, gunmen have been summoned and given license to kill. Sanjay Singh, a registered sharpshooter, was summoned by the forestry service after the seventh fatal attack, and has spent three weeks in the area. He said he believed she has moved to an area so densely forested that it is impossible to ride on elephants, as tiger trackers prefer, and he and a dozen trackers are patrolling on foot, combing the forest from morning until sunset.

“Now there is no alternative except to kill her,” he said. “Otherwise she will keep on killing people. It is a very dicey game, which is very dangerous, and thrilling, as well.”

Yes, well, as The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band cautioned, tigers don’t care in what part of you they fix their fretwork sets. Dear dear dear no, dear dear dear no, dear dear oh dear no.

comments

  1. avatar jwm says:

    Rump first? Better drag me to a stream and do some cleaning first or the meat won’t be fit to eat.

    1. avatar Leadbelly says:

      I’m going to shamelessly ride along on this first comment because of a piece of information I recently came across that no one below has mentioned.

      Somewhere on Google News recently it was stated by some biologist or the like, in National Geographic, Discover, Smithsonian – one of those – that tigers quite naturally develop a taste for people. We’re saltier (not to mention slower), and predators are always hurting for salt in their diet.

      If you really love your burgers and fries, therefore, avoid tigers

  2. avatar Charles5 says:

    It is a different world where hunters go forth on elephants.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      And the peasants have to beg for guns to protect themsleves and their families from being eaten.

  3. avatar Paul W says:

    There’s nothing wrong with working to preserve habitat and wildlife while being 100% willing to let people kill wildlife that’s actually predating humans. That doesn’t mean shoot ALL THE TIGERS! but killing ones that are stalking humans or attacking humans? Sure thing, go for it.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Of course Indians should have the right to own guns; the is what vexed Gandhi so much under British colonial rule.

      But mark my words, if they are allowed to go out and shoot tigers on their own, the Bengal Tiger will be extinct in pretty short order.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      I’m pretty sure that if Bengal tigers were roaming the Puget Sound area and occasionally eating people, especially people of color, they would be exterminated and/or caged up in pretty short order. Why do so many people think it is okay for other societies to have to live with this daily risk when they would NEVER subject their kids to the same hazards?

      Tigers are beautiful creatures. I admire them greatly as the alpha predators that they are, but they would not be the first of such creatures to go extinct (seen any T-Rex’s lately) and I think the world would continue to revolve after that event. On the other hand, there’s over 1 billion Indians, so what’s the big fuss? (/sarc)

      1. avatar Huntmaster says:

        I’m pretty conservative and until I retire, live in Connecticut. It’s a forgone conclusion that a tiger eating the children of rich white liberals (or their cats and dogs) in say Greenwich or Stamford would invoke a much more focused response than one eating children of color in Bridgeport or New Haven.

  4. avatar JAS says:

    The guy relieving himself violated “The Safari Principle” – never ever get our of your vehicle. Applies in South Chicago as well.

    1. avatar A samurai says:

      South Chicago? Yep, I bet you could get eaten by tigers there too.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Maybe we’re thinking of the same “lady” in a cheetah leotard that prowls the streets there…

      2. avatar Les says:

        No, just Trayvonned.

    2. avatar MacBeth51 says:

      Especially in someplace named after Jim Corbett

      1. avatar Heinrich D. Bag says:

        No doubt. People just don’t get it.

  5. avatar CRH in Canada says:

    “half ton tiger” = 1,000 lbs. More modern journalism fail; but at the NY Times, this is hardly surprising.

    Not that Wikipedia is the best source, but it is quickest – “Re: Bengal tigers: The weight of males range from 180 to 260 kg (400 to 570 lb), while that of the females range from 100 to 160 kg (220 to 350 lb).”

    Tigers are big, but not that big!

    1. avatar Kevin R. Mussack says:

      Beat me to it….even the Sabre Toothed Cat didn’t weigh in at 1,000-pounds.

    2. avatar Anmut says:

      I thought they had found tiger’s that lived near a nuclear and fat rendering plants!

    3. avatar CHOtto says:

      Ligers!
      at 922 pounds, Hercules is truly a 1/2 ton of predator if he wanted to be…

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/hercules-liger-worlds-largest-cat-photos_n_3920158.html

  6. avatar Carl says:

    I’m rooting for the tigers.

    (American vs Australian vernacular)

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      Me too. If they would just focus on their bullpen…

  7. avatar former water walker says:

    The police shot an errant mountain lion a few years back in Chicago. One would think they slaughtered a child from the animal rights wackos outcry. Not much makes sense in India.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      Britain: bringing you the very best in world governments since 1066.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        To be fair, didn’t the britains get conquered and taken over by the Normans in 1066? Normans were vikings and french mixtures. So the following governments don’t owe much to the brits. They were conquered early by the Romans and then had a brief period of freedom before being conquered by the Normans.

        I could be wrong about this. In 1066 the saxons ruled in england, but they were also conquerors. Has anybody not conquered the brits? Outside of the non master race from germany.

        1. avatar peirsonb says:

          Couldn’t just leave sarcasm lie….

          It really depends on how far back you have to go to be native. I would argue that nearly 1000 years is far enough to call the invaders of the times Brits today.

          To get “native” you’d almost have to go pre-Roman. The Romans tended to push any continental peoples they couldn’t immediately crush north across the channel.

          Besides, really wanna p1ss off a Brit? Ask them what it’s like being ruled the French 🙂

        2. avatar jwm says:

          I’m a bad man.

        3. avatar OODAloop says:

          Piss off a Brit with questions about being ruled by France? With over 60% of them on some sort of State assistance I’d think they’d not give a $hit as long as the money kept coming in. And to think that 100 years ago the sun never set on the British Empire. Limey fruits….

        4. avatar Martin B says:

          There was a native tribe in Roman times called the Prythons, and Rome essentially named Britain after them (as Britannia). And they were a subject people under the Romans. After the Romans left, the populace called themselves Britons, but within a hundred years they had again been conquered, by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. (Apart from jute bags, is there any remaining reference to them?) I myself have Saxon ancestors from the 9th century.

          This admixture called themselves English. The unconquered remnant left in Wales, Cornwall and the North East called themselves Cmru, sometimes also Britons. Brittany in France and Cape Breton in Canada also derive from these folk.

          Vikings from Denmark and Norway invaded next, and conquered most of Northern Britain. Many words in the Northern dialect descend from Norse or Danish.

          William the Conqueror visited next, and soon controlled most of Britain. French became the language of the ruling classes. My Flemish ancestors were invited over by King John, as they were counted as the most vicious knights in Christendom. I can trace these people back to the 6th century.

          Thereafter Britain defended itself successfully against Spanish, French and German invasions. Only the American invasion of WWII proved disastrous, as the treasury was emptied to pay for war materiel, and Britain has been in the doldrums ever since. A weak revival in the 1960s proved short lived.

          Britain has also been unable to withstand repeated waves of immigration from the Caribbean, Africa and East Asia, with a result that there is only a superficial resemblance to any past Britain. There may still be some in the British isles who identify themselves as British, but they are probably in the minority.

  8. avatar Gene Forsythe says:

    When there were 100 times as many tigers as today, and a more complete and vibrant prey population – but only 1/10 the human population that exists today – AND that population had not been disarmed by a series of “progessive” governments there was almost no tiger snacking on people. It should be obvious that the solution to today’s issue is multi-faceted, requiring both the conservation of a critical species as well as the reduction of human population and their massively uncontrolled infringement into the very limited tiger habitat areas (composing only 00.15 percent of the Indian land area).

    1. avatar Bryan says:

      Or how about just stacking out a few sacred cows on the edge of the village.

      1. avatar AJ says:

        Feinstein, Boxer, and DeLeon should be the first three.

    2. avatar Roscoe says:

      @ Gene Forsythe

      Nice. My thoughts exactly, but you said it much more diplomatically than I would have.

  9. avatar peirsonb says:

    I love this language…

    Predate vs. predate. Not only two different meanings, two entirely different pronunciations with context as the only way to tell them apart.

  10. avatar slow says:

    Alaska, another land filled with apex predators, most folks do not leave home without a large caliber predator deterrent.

  11. avatar Shenandoah says:

    Kill the tigers, save the gang rapists!

    Maybe if we let the Tigers control the human population there, India wouldn’t be the crappy place it has become. This goes for most places in the world, sadly.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      Relocate the gang rapists to the tiger habitats. Two birds.

      1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

        Stake the rapists out like bait goats.

  12. avatar JAS says:

    Not about tigers but lions… In 1996 a movie with Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer came out called “The Ghost and the Darkness”. It’s on Netflix and I liked it a lot. It’s about turn of the century (1900) railroad building in Kenya and lions having dinner on the workers.

    1. avatar ErrantVenture11 says:

      I really, REALLY like that movie. Been a while since I’ve watched it, might go find it this weekend…

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Yep, the Tsavo lions that Tom in Oregon referenced below. If memory serves their skins are in the Chicago museum of natural history. Not a bad movie as hollywood goes.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          Yep, the Ghost and the Darkness are stuffed and on display at the Field Museum. I grew up with those lions and didn’t even know how famous they were.

    2. avatar GSRpositive says:

      This made me think of that movie, too. Although embellished (naturally) the movie is based on a true occurrence. I saw one of the lions (stuffed of course) on a visit to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Fantastic museum. Got stuck in Chicago a lifetime ago and got to go to that museum. I’ve wanted to go back ever since.

  13. avatar TheBear says:

    There are more tigers in captivity in TX than the wilds of India.

  14. avatar Maineuh says:

    Boy, talk about your perfect analogy. Villagers = citizens in U.S. cities. Tigers = gang bangers, rapists, drug-twisted home invaders. Who needs a gun? Try vomiting to dissuade the attacker. Or call the police.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Or carry a glass vial of skunk scent in your panties.

  15. avatar Gunracer1958 says:

    When man enters the realm of apex predators, natural stuff happens.

    We hear it here in Colorado when the coyotes and mountain lions are sighted in a yuppie larvae sub-division, “Oh my God, we must do something………….our pets and children are in danger”.

    My suggestion, is teach your children that the world is a dangerous place and they should always be aware and keep your pets inside, lest they become track-able scat.

    Better yet, can we send these lions and tigers and bears (oh my) to our urban jungles? Plenty of tasty morsel to predate upon.

  16. avatar EC says:

    Read “Death in the Long Grass” by Peter Hathaway Capstick – it chronicles the life of a great hunter who took care of such problem animals like this particular tiger. His stories about hunting lions in Africa left me chilled to the bone. When an animal gets a taste of human meat it needs to be put down, because it’ll never go back to eating prey that’s much harder to catch than humans. At this point, you’ve got to put them down, end of story.

    1. avatar Gunracer1958 says:

      Best ever Capstick quote…………..

      “The Cape Buffalo looks at you like you owe him money”………….

      1. avatar EC says:

        Hah! That’s a great one. I like this:

        “If there is anything more innately stupid than a rhinoceros, then it has to be two of them.”

        This quote may not be applicable today, as plenty of our members of congress have shown themselves to be pretty darned stupid.

        1. avatar Bryan says:

          It’s not a coincidence that one of the parties symbol is that of a Jackass!

      2. avatar ropingdown says:

        Amazing. I read the book just two months ago and exactly the same sentence grabbed my attention.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          His writing is what hooked me on Africa.
          Fantastic writer.

  17. avatar IdahoPete says:

    If you want to read an excellent book about hunting man-eaters on foot, alone, read “Man Eaters of Kumaon” by Jim Corbett. He worked in India in the 1920s-1930s, and his stories are absolutely gripping. He didn’t like to go out with other hunters or beaters because they made it difficult to listen to what the jungle was telling him about the tiger. As an aside, one of the double rifles (a best quality boxlock .450-400(3″) double rifle by W.J. Jeffery & Co.) Corbett used is in the Boise, ID Cabela’s store-museum of Elmer Keith’s guns.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      The next time I’ve picked up a rental car for the drive to Hailey I’ll have to stop by there. Thanks for the info.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Or man eaters of Tsavo.
        Very prolific man eaters.

      2. avatar IdahoPete says:

        Turn left when you enter the store – Elmer Keith museum is in the NE corner, on the same side as the guns.

  18. avatar Randy Drescher says:

    Hey, this is sad but we have feinswine to worry about & I’m pretty sure she would start rump first too. So, next time they start whining about being eaten alive show em a picture of feinswine…I’m sure they will count their blessings.

  19. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Speaking of tiger attacks.
    I think this elephant driver is now a eunuch.
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6mXeuJOfUNM&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6mXeuJOfUNM

    1. avatar jwm says:

      The screaming I would have been doing would’ve sounded very eunuch like. Or at least 7 yo girlish.

  20. avatar Ralph says:

    Bring the tigers to the US and put them to work selling Frosted Flakes. Problem solved.

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      They are GRRRRRReat!

  21. avatar Accur81 says:

    Maybe I’m a sick bastard, but it would be awesome to go on a man-eating tiger hunt. Either that, or we could send some criminals out into the bush and save our taxpayers some cash.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      it would be awesome to go on a man-eating tiger hunt</i.

      Not if you were the man.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        I was planning on being armed – not human Meow Mix.

        1. avatar Adub says:

          Hunting animals is cool. Especially in a group. I wonder if it’s that much fun in the military (yes, people shoot back at you there).

        2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Accur81,
          The most absolutely exhilarating experience of my life (even better than skydiving), was listening to the lions prowl around our tent and trying to sleep. Between them, the hyenas, baboons, hippos and jackals, we didn’t sleep for two days.
          You wish for a bigger gun.

    2. avatar 2hotel9 says:

      Yea, got to agree. Me, my SMLE and a few boxes of 180gr ballistic tip boat tails. I wouldn’t even bill them! Gratis, babe.

  22. avatar Gregolas says:

    First, 1000 points to Robert, for the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band reference! Yah!
    Next, does anyone else see the parallel here between the socialist government of India and our socialist government believing that a few citizens sacrificed to predators is an equitable, nay, salutory trade-off for a disarmed and helpless citizenry?

  23. avatar Jack Brown says:

    I worked 2 years with lions, tigers and elephants. Out of the three I preferred the elephants because they’re not predisposed to eating people but between the cats, the lions were so much easier to get along with. Something about the tigers make them really creepy.

    1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

      Had a small circus go through here a few years ago, they had several young tigers and the handlers were working with them in a large enclosure so they would get used to crowds. Me and Boy were watching this for a while, I finally waved over one of the handlers. Told him “dude, you need to watch that one there better.” and he said yes, she is a problem child, we are turning her over to a zoo at the end of this season. That cat was watching all 4 handlers in the coldest, most calculating manner you can imagine. I been around domestic and wild cats pretty much all my life and I have seen that look, we got a fem who is our #1 hunter and house topkick right now, and I have seen her give that look to no few animals.

      Tigers have the rep for being hard to handle, more so than lions. All comes down to temperament, and tigers are 100% certain that THEY are in charge.

  24. avatar brainman says:

    “That tiger ain’t go crazy; that tiger went tiger!”

  25. avatar Dave says:

    There’s 1.24 billion people in India vs a handful of tigers… Let the tigers eat as many of them as they can stomach.

  26. avatar chuck k says:

    This sounds like what goes on in California. Cougars attack and kill people but it’s against the law to hunt them.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/09/mountain-lions-cougars-california-attacks.html

  27. avatar mrvco says:

    This is what happens when you taste good.

    My suggestion? Taste less good.

  28. avatar Jim says:

    “Tell that to the family of the Ram Charan, a man who “got out of a car to relieve himself on a roadside in the Jim Corbett National Park. ”

    Interestingly, Jim Corbett was a man who attained fame hunting and killing man-eating cats, who in some instances had body counts in the hundreds. His books make interesting reading. Perhaps its time for his successor to go to work.

  29. avatar jrcanoe says:

    Fear of Man is not instinctual, it is learned behavior. To take care of the cougar problem and all other man eaters except reptiles, They should declare open season with paintballs filled with garlic oil. After a few stinging incidents the smelly rainbow kitties would avoid man like the plague!

  30. avatar Guner from Oregon says:

    I can hear the friends of Ram Charan talking, a few days later, when they were getting ready to take another drive in the forest.
    “Hey did you guy’s remember to put some pee cans in the car?”

  31. avatar Kyle says:

    Tigers are generally much more friendly animals than lions, but Bengal tigers are extraordinarily vicious and deadly, able to kill lions (normally lions can kill tigers). This is because competition for food and mates in the region is very tough, so it has resulted in a very aggressive tiger.

    While these tigers are very beautiful, they are killers, and people cannot be left to die so that people who do not live in the region and have to worry about the tigers are not upset because such a beautiful animal is being killed.

  32. avatar D from NC says:

    Well if they hadn’t overpopulated their country to such a great extent they wouldn’t be having as many deaths. Simple numbers can tell you that. We need to find out how to get more wolves and cougars in our own country before we worry about how India was successful in maintaining breeding populations of one of the most endangered animals in the world. We should be looking at how India was able achieve such a great success in such an overpopulated country. I wish I had a little more to worry about in the forests of Appalachia, some wolves and cougars would really make things more interesting.

    1. avatar Dave says:

      Exactly. People encroach on an animal’s territory, hunt it near to extinction, & then are surprised when a few people get mauled. You come into the animal’s backyard, you’re on its turf, & you’re not the top of the food chain. Don’t want mauled by a tiger/wolf/cougar/whatever? Keep out of areas where you’re putting yourself in danger. Shark attack? Don’t be surprised; you’re the one flailing around in the water. If you were meant to be there, you’d have gills & fins. Don’t blame an animal for obeying its nature.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      There probably is not a cattle rancher in the West who agrees with your assessment, and most will kill a wolf on sight rather than risk an attack on a calving herd. These guys despise wolves. Cats not so much, as they are solitary and have very large territories; in fact they will fight to the death to protect their territory. Therefore they are less of a threat to livestock, and will be hunted only if their population becomes too large for the natural fauna to feed.

      1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

        Big cats in western hemisphere are not, by and large, as aggressive as Asian Tigers. And as has been pointed out already, once big cats start eating human flesh they don’t stop. They keep going back to the well until they are killed. Scientists can argue about why. It is an established behavioral pattern with a long record in historical documents, in Africa and Asia, and only fools ignore it. Too bad those fools can’t be loaded up and shipped to the region a maneater is working so they can sacrifice themselves for Mother Gaia.

    3. avatar 2hotel9 says:

      I have seen a mountain lion here in western PA, so they are working their way down to you! As are coyotes.

  33. avatar AaronW says:

    Maybe on the tiger hunt, they’ll find some excellent mangoes?

    On another note, my favorite line from Ghost and the Darkness: “You went into battle with an unfamiliar gun?”

  34. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    I volunteer to help them out, they just got to get me there!

  35. avatar Martin B says:

    For those who don’t know him, Jim Corbett was an extraordinary man. He grew up hunting in the Indian bush, and developed an intimate knowledge of it’s creatures and their habits. He recalled, at age 11, bedding down under a bush, and on waking in the morning, a tiger rose up from the other side of the bush, where he too had been sleeping. The look of surprise on the tiger’s face was memorable. He felt no fear of tigers, as in those days game was plentiful, and tigers did not predate humans.

    This began to change in the decade before the dawn of the 20th century, and records began of a number of voracious man eaters, tigers and leopards. Corbett began hunting them on foot, first with a beating party, then lying in a machan platform above a recent kill or goat. The success of Corbett’s efforts led to him being the first called when a problem animal emerged. Many of these predators had wide ranging territories crossing national borders, and some had kill tallies exceeding 400 human souls.

    Some impressions he gained: tigers are extremely brave, and lose any fear of humans once they start killing them. So any kills by day are tiger kills. Leopards by contrast are always cautious, and only kill in full darkness. They will leap through high windows and carry off their victim, often with no other person being aware that it has happened. Many leopard man eaters were caused after the 1918 flu epidemic, when the Hindu practise of burning dead bodies was limited to putting a live coal in the mouth, and throwing the corpse off a cliff. Leopards will eat carrion, not so tigers in general.

    Corbett eschewed the generally favoured technique of hunting on elephant back, as ineffective. He deplored hunting in parties, as marksmanship and nerve rapidly deplete when in man eater territory. Many times he insisted that all other parties pull out of an area before he began hunting.

    The reverence felt for Corbett due to the lives he saved, and his respect for the brave hill folk, coupled with his later withdrawing from hunting and instead photographing wildlife, led to the creation of the Jim Corbett National Park.

    He left India after the 1947 partition, and was the chief guide at Treetops in Kenya when it was his sad duty to tell our Queen that her father had died, and that she was now monarch. His books were an early inspiration for me.

  36. I noticed that the “India Times” reported that one hunter was ‘sent back’ (I presume to town) for “Not having rifle of particular bore”, which I presume means inadequet/ too small bore. Anyone know what the Indian Govt considers an adequet bore for tigers?

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