“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.