By Kay Tiwari
Shashi, the Bamera male, recovering from injury from recent fighting is in dangerous territory. He entered the Sarai village close to the park boundary and behind Damna village. He limped into a villager’s courtyard home where he has killed two tethered cows, not feet away from its brave inhabitants, who got up and harassed the brute with sticks, while Shashi dragged the cow into the cover of the villager’s lentil field where he settled down to fill his aching belly.
Out of sight Shashi, unhappy to have been so disturbed in his killing field, filled his belly, while the angry villagers began to gather and wait for the police and Forest Department to attend to this alarming situation.
Satyendra and I were informed of the tiger in the village by a guide whose sister lived there. We drove to the spot not knowing for sure which tiger was the antagoniser. By the time we arrived it was just after noon and the park’s elephants had arrived from Hardia as well as the Police Superintendent from nearby Manpur town. No one other than the mahavats and elephants had arrived from Bandhavgarh because technically the area is under the jurisdiction of Manpur town.
On arrival Satyendra talked to the police and SDO in charge. It was their thinking to leave Shashi to his meal and drive him back to the park with the elephants later in the afternoon on a full belly. (Nobody likes to harass an angry and hungry tiger after all) The considered option to tranquilize and move Shashi back to the park was dropped even though the park vet and suitable transport had already been called for.
An injured tiger, who gets used to the easy pickings of food far beyond the park boundaries is enough to give all protection staff sleepless nights. They know that such tigers are likely to disappear without trace, as many do on the Eastern periphery of the park, if measures are not put in place to protect village communities and their livestock.
At three pm just after Satyendra had decided to leave the crime scene, Shashi re-entered the same house again. Exactly why no one really knows, but perhaps he was seeking some shade or water. Satyendra sped back to the area again to find staff in a real quandary as to what to do.
In the end it was decided the tiger should indeed be driven back towards the park and the elephants where asked to get on with the process. Shashi, unused to the fuss and the imposition of the herding elephants, faced them off, but retreated at his own pace after some mock charges. With the perpetrator now out the way, the carcasses where rapidly buried and a tethered goat rapidly bought from villagers to tide Shashi over during the night within the park, so he would not think too wander back into the heart of the village again.
An elephants and his driver, together with a policeman stayed all night watching Shashi as he settled near a shallow watering spot. Other staff and attendees slept – more comfortably – close by at Hardia forest camp.
Sadly, with Shashi under intense pressure from his maturing son Pushpraj and perhaps other young males I would doubt this will be the last the villagers will see of him. For the park authorities these are worrying times; soon it will be the Mahua season when villagers pread far and wide across the buffer forests gathering the colourful flowers for the annual brewing of Mahua alcohol. Hopefully this recent disturbing event will not affect Shashi’s fear or antagonism to men and woman on foot. Very laid back in attitude he has never been a tiger to fear when out walking but if he now continues to spend much of his time outside the park he will certainly come into contact with more and more disturbance and increasing antagonism from his human neighbours and his very own protection force.
Shashi is on a dangerous and rocky road.
Credits: Tiger Nation