Wild Tiger Leaves Trail of Human Blood

by Earth First! News240749-india-conservation-animal-tiger-files

“The impact of an attacking tiger can be compared to that of a piano falling on you from a second story window. But unlike the piano, the tiger is designed to do this, and the impact is only the beginning.”
― John Vaillant, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

Since December of 2013, a female Royal Bengal tiger in the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand — bordering Nepal and Tibet — has mapped her species geography of extinction with an 80 mile swath of human blood. On February 10, she ate the abdomen and a leg from her tenth and latest victim, a 50-year-old man who was said to be collecting wood, before villagers chased her off with shovels.

A massive, state sponsored hunt has been launched to catch her. Sharpshooters with high powered rifles riding in open four-wheel drive vehicles are tracking her.

At the turn of the last century some 40,000 tigers roamed the wilds of British colonized India. But cats fell victim to colonial game hunters, poachers for Asian medicine markets, and ultimately, the widespread conversion of wild habitat to agriculture and urban sprawl. Today, according to the last census conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, only about 1,700 tigers remain in India, which, sadly, is the largest tiger population in the world.

No one is exactly sure why this tiger began stalking humans as prey.  She wandered off of the Jim Corbett National Park, India’s oldest wildlife park, sometime before her first kill on December 29.  Her path has been likened to that taken by a “serial killer on the prowl” but this is probably a poor analogy. Her path appears to be one of desperation and revenge, one of hunger and survival.

“Usually tigers that have roamed off follow the same path back home to the park,” said Nazim Khan, a wildlife conservationist, in an interview. “But this tiger is roaming all over the place. Clearly, she is looking for something.”

The tiger crosses train track, highways, urban centers, and travels in the cover of uncut sugarcane. She can smell human prey from more than a mile away.  She has attacked at night and in daylight. Some of her victims have been found disfigured and disemboweled. Some victims have never been found short of a pair of shoes marked by dried blood.

She is due to strike again any day.

Sometime shortly she will also most likely meet her death at the end of a rifle.

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