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Tigers and Man-eaters

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places

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Introduction

The tiger is a fascinating animal. The lion may be recognized as the king of beasts but the big cat is the king of the jungle. He is the most ferocious of the big cats. India is the home of this beast. It has the largest population in the world. For centuries this beast has been part of folklore. The Hindu goddess Durga rides on a beast and in The east of India, the villagers believe in the God Dokhin Rai.

There was a time when tigers roamed the length and breadth of India. There are records of Tigers even in Punjab and North India. The famous Sikh warrior Hari Singh Nalwa reportedly killed one with his bare hands. Now, no tigers are available in Punjab and all over India also the population that numbered over 500,000 has been reduced to a few thousand.

The government and the wildlife foundation launched "Operation Tiger" and created reserves. The aim was to let the beast thrive in its natural habitat. The wildlife act was also passed which declared the animal a protected species and anybody killing the big beast can be sent to 10 years imprisonment.

The big cat is a carnivorous beast that thrives on the wild buck, blue bull, and wild hog for its prey. A fully grown animal is a menacing beast and if confronted or antagonized can be a formidable opponent.

Jim Corbett (1875-1955)

When you think of tigers you can't help thinking of Jim Corbett, the famous hunter. He made the animal a part of folklore with his book 'Man-Eaters of Kumaon'. Jim Corbett was the archetypical British Indian. He was born in 1875 in Nainital, India, and never went to England even once. He was part of a family of 16 children and was eight in number. Jim is credited with killing 19 maneaters.

The first man-eater he killed was the Champawat man-eater who is documented to have killed 436 humans. In addition to the man-eating tigers, he also killed two man-eating leopards. The first was the Panna in 1910 who had reportedly killed 400 people and the second was the beast of Rudraprayag who reportedly killed 126 humans in 1926.

He is credited for the killing of the Talla-Des man-eater, the Mohan man-eater, the Thak man-eater, the Muktesar man-eater, and the Chowgarh tigress.

Corbett also analyzed the carcasses of the man-eaters and concluded that the beasts had become man-eaters as they were suffering from disease or wounds, or had become too old to hunt natural prey.

Corbett was happy in India so long as the British ruled and in October 1947 after India became free he left India for Kenya where he died in 1955. Corbett was a confirmed bachelor and lived with his sister until the end. Zero


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Man-eaters

Are tigers who turn man-eaters a rule or an exception? Tigers generally avoid human beings and would like to live in their own environment. One may well ask If the beast is not addicted to human flesh then how come almost 300,000 people at a conservative estimate have been attacked and killed by tigers? Many tigers in India had become man-eaters and Jim Corbett killed quite a few of them. A study of all the man-eaters who were killed has been carried out. It has been brought out that most of these tigers were old or incapacitated or injured with a gunshot or by other animals. In such a circumstance if the beast has to survive and the easiest prey available to him is a human being. The big cat weighs about four hundred to six hundred pounds depending upon the species and it can easily overpower a man unless he is with a gun. There have been instances of tigers who became lame or too old attacking villages and spiriting away single villagers or children.

A man-eater will never attack a group of humans but will generally attack a single villager who is moving around alone. It is also a very intelligent animal and there have been cases of maneaters entering inside the hut and quietly spiriting away one of the children. These tigers become so addicted to humans that they will not attack the goats and other animals in the village.

Man-eaters who have become aged or incapacitated are easier to hunt. But woe betides a hunter who takes him lightly. He is a very cunning animal and it can sense the approach of the hunter and invariably will only meet him at a place where he is the master. He will – lure the hunter into the deep jungle or a cave where he resides.

There is a very interesting movie made in the early 50s which is still available on the Internet titled ' Harry Black and the Tiger.' It stars Stewart Granger as Harry Black and the role of Bapu the tracker is played by the Indian IS Johar. The beast lures Harry Black inside a cave BUT is shot dead by the hunter with the help of his tracker.

It is worth remembering that a man-eater follows all the principles of war and one should be prepared accordingly.

There is a new breed of man-eaters who have come on the scene which were not there for centuries. There is an ever-growing human population in the country and this is expanding into the areas which were earlier the habitat of the animal. The big cat is getting cornered and not finding prey as more and more villagers are expanding their habitation. In such a scenario the prey like the blackbuck or boar is not available. In that case, the big cat is apt to attack and kill humans; after all, it is Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest.

These tigers are extremely deadly because they are young, agile, and can move much faster in the jungle. A few such animals have been seen in India now and it is a matter of regret that this is happening. The government has now designated many sanctuaries for the tigers but villagers still enter inside either to collect honey or anything else and that is provoking the beast who will defend its turf


Last word

One of the reasons for the dwindling population was the British Raj. The British who had never seen tigers before along with the maharajas joined the sport of killing tigers. Elaborate hunts were organized In which the maharajas and the British residents took part. It was a thrill to kill whether he was a man-eater or not was immaterial. The results were catastrophic and the population began to dwindle. The method of killing gave no chance to the animal to escape. It involves about a hundred or more villagers with drums and bugles making as much noise as possible in the jungle where the animal had been seen. The animal would run away from this cacophony of sound towards the clearing which was specially made. The maharaja and his guest would be sitting atop in a machan with guns and the moment he/she appeared in the clearing he was shot dead. The animal would then become a trophy.

Hunting has now been banned and no longer can you have a big cats head as a trophy or sell the skin. The wildlife act bans it. However, wheels are turning and there is a line of thought that the Tigers who turn maneaters should be tranquilized with bullets and transported to a zoo instead of killing them. I sincerely support this, if at all it comes into effect.


Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 28, 2020:

Tom, So nice I have read about Billy Arjan. He did a great job as a tiger conservationist. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was for many years the health minister in Nehru's cabinet.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 23, 2020:

Vanita , thanks for sparing time and commenting

Vanita Thakkar on October 23, 2020:

Very informative and interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

I too support the initiative mentioned in the concluding lines - about taking care of old tigers in zoo.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 19, 2020:

Devika, nice of you to have commented.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 19, 2020:

MG Singh emge Interesting and you enlightened me about tigers as man-eaters. It is sad for both sides, humans and tigers but one has to protect themselves from this terrot of tigers.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 16, 2020:

Denise, thank you for commenting.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 16, 2020:

It is a devastating loss. In the US we had a problem with Grizzley bears. Because they attacked humans they were hunted almost to extinction. We have a Grizzley bear on the California flag but there are no Grizzlies here in California at all. I agree that zoos are a better alternative.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 16, 2020:

Raymond, thank you. I share your concern about tigers. Truly magnificent big cats.

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on October 16, 2020:

How sad that there are only a few thousand of these beautiful animals left. Unfortunately, it is the story shared by many other animals. The growth of our human habitat is at the expense of their habitat. I never realized that some tigers also ate people. Thank you for sharing this fascinating story.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 15, 2020:

Well TOM, Granger died at 81 and Johar at 60 in 1984. both had multiple marriages.

tom on October 15, 2020:

granger and is johar are dead

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 15, 2020:

Chitra, thank you for your comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 15, 2020:

Tom, very true. The maharajahs along with the English destroyed a lot of natural habitats and wildlife. However, Lord Curzon on the request of his wife did set up the Kaziranga Wildlife Park in 1905. That's a plus point.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 15, 2020:

Excellent and engaging article.

I have been fortunate to visit some of the preserved sanctuaries of India, the latest being the Sariska National Park. The Tigers are the most beautiful animals, and it's good to see, the steps taken by the Forest department of the Government of India, to preserve and protect their population.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful and informative article, with interesting details.