Last Thursday, a “man-eating” tiger was killed by a forest guard in the Bandipur National Park, in India, in response to an attack. This case, which is one example amongst many others, is the result of a human-tiger conflict.
After it had killed a villager, the big cat was placed under surveillance but then attacked a forest guard during an observation operation intended to prevent a repeat of the first incident. A member of the victim’s team had no choice but to shoot the feline, wounding him in the shoulder in the first instance. The tiger, which did not let go of the man trapped in its jaws, received a second bullet, this time to the head. The guard was then released from the feline’s jaws and taken to hospital.
Tigers don’t usually attack humans. However, this can happen due to the reduction of their habitat, human pressure on natural resources (deforestation, intensive hunting), and a lack of prey that can encourage the animal to come near villages looking for food. This is the case in the region of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, where we support the work of WildTeam. Stress and anxiety are additional factors that exacerbate this phenomenon. Finally, felines that are in weak physical condition (illness, old age…) may be more inclined to adopt this kind of behaviour.
Indeed, conflicts between local populations and tigers can have drastic consequences. But there are ways to reduce these risks. For example, our community-based tiger safeguarding programme in Nepal offers villagers alternatives to the use of natural resources (development of sustainable micro-projects, implementation of actions to encourage livestock feeding out of the forest…). It’s also essential to raise community awareness about the importance of tigers, and to inform villagers about the behaviours that they can adopt in order to ensure better cohabitation between humans and these felines.