Tall tiger tales

Monthly Chronicle - - Outdoor Lifestyle -

"If you need to an­swer the call of na­ture," said my In­dian wildlife guide, "you'll have to go be­hind that shed. But keep your eyes open: a vil­lager was taken from there by a tiger, only a month ago."

Find­ing a tiger in the wild is eas­ier these days be­cause con­ser­va­tion mea­sures are prov­ing to be suc­cess­ful and hunt­ing them has been brought un­der con­trol, par­tic­u­larly in In­dia and Nepal.

But it still took me sev­eral days of early ris­ing

and te­dious search­ing. The wait was worth­while how­ever: I was as­ton­ished by the an­i­mal's size and beauty, and more than a lit­tle fear­ful of its ob­vi­ous strength.

The guide was ready for a chat. "Tourists come and bring money which we need. And tigers are part of na­ture and must be pro­tected - it's un­think­able that such a beast should be hunted al­most to ex­tinc­tion, which was pre­vi­ously the case."

Not all of the lo­cals agree. Liv­ing at the edge of the jun­gle is of­ten to live in fear and I was shown a photo of a badly mauled man who had been 'lucky' to es­cape the clutches of a tiger.

And that's the prob­lem. Al­though tigers are good for the econ­omy, they kill hu­mans. As tiger num­bers are in­creas­ing, so is is the hu­man pop­u­la­tion, with the two com­ing more and more into con­flict.

Each an­i­mal needs a lot of jun­gle in which to hunt. Older, in­firm tigers of­ten with bro­ken or miss­ing teeth, be­come des­per­ate as they are un­able to cap­ture their pre­ferred prey of deer and wild boar. Hu­mans are then of­ten seen as an easy tar­get.

More tigers means more vis­i­tors with more chances of view­ing tigers; and more sight­ings means more tourists.

My guide con­ceded that there was no easy an­swer. "If you go be­hind the shed you should take at least two friends with you. At­tacks are usu­ally made on peo­ple who are alone."

Usu­ally? I wasn't con­vinced. Not in the habit of be­ing chap­er­oned to the loo and not want­ing to suf­fer death by tiger, I de­cided I could wait un­til I re­turned to the ho­tel. At least that prob­lem was eas­ily solved.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.