Two tiger poisoned in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve

At around 1000 hours in the morning the Deputy Field Director of Ranthambhore national park (RS Shekhawat) called me and asked me to reach the Tadla chowki (or Forest Guard House) near Banas river as soon as possible, along with MD Parasher. He told me that the two “Chiroli cubs” were dead, probably poisoned and that he was inside the Ranthambhore national park and heading to the area where this happened. He wanted both of us to be an “independent witness” to the case.

I got in touch with MD Parasher (an artist based in Ranthambhore) and we left for the Tadla in a few minutes. When we reached the chowki there was a guard waiting for us and from there we drove towards a small village called “Tadla ka khet” about a mile ahead of Amli Deh (a deep water pool in the river). This area is across the river Banas and lies in the Baler forest range, at the edge of the Keladevi sanctuary, which is a part of Ranthambhore tiger reserve. We met up with RS Shekhawat, Range Officer Daulat Singh and the Range Officer Baler at the edge of river Banas, just beyond Amli Deh. There were about a dozen forest guards with them. The Deputy Director confirmed that the two cubs (actually sub adult tigers who had separated from their mother slightly over two months ago) were dead.

The location:

The “Tadla ka khet” village lies in the midst of ravines between the Banas river basin and the Keladevi plateau. The terrain is typical of the ravines that are found along Chambal river and its tributaries – steep and low sand cliffs that have been cut by monsoon rain fed “nallah” (streams) and there is little level ground in the entire area. There is some level ground near the village, which is used for farming.

  • This is view of Tadla ka khet village from a small hillock nest to where the tigers were found dead. The Keladevi plateau can be seen in the background.

There are very few large mammals that can be seen there in the day because of the disturbance by goat herders. One does see a lot of hoof prints and droppings so mammals like Nilgai, Wild boar, Sambar etc must be using the area, more so during the nights, when there are no herders around.

There are about 5 extended families in this small village of farmers and goat herders. Only one of these five families does not rear goats, while the other mainly depend on goat rearing for their living.

Technically this area is in the Baler range of the Keladevi Sanctuary, as it is across the river Banas but for the last two (more or less) years its management comes under the Deputy Director Ranthambhore national park and not under the Deputy Director Karauli, who administers the rest of Keladevi Sanctuary.

Ranthambhore tiger reserve consists of the Ranthambhore national park, keladevi sanctuary, Sawai Mansingh sanctuary, Sawaimadhopur sanctuary, Kuwalji protected area and some smaller protected areas.

  • Map of Ranthambhore tiger reserve

The tigers:


The two tigers that died are supposed to be 16 to 17 months old though they appeared to be older than that to me. The forest department informed us that they were first camera trapped about 13-14 months ago in the Chiroli area of the Kundera range of Ranthambhore national park. That is why they are known as the Chiroli cubs. As far as I know, they were never ever seen in any of the tourist zones and there are very few photographs of this family. They must have been regularly picked up in the camera traps in Chiroli and Bheed area of the national park but since these areas are out of bound for us I do not know much about these tigers. These two cubs had separated from their mother somewhere in January 2010 and since then had moved out of the national park to the Baler range of Keladevi sanctuary, which is a part of the tiger reserve. Right now Ranthambhore national park has far too many male tigers so the moment male cubs separate from their mother they have to start looking for a territory in the fringes of the national park. The other more dominant males ensure that they have to do that. In the last few months almost all the tigers that are moving out of the national park are young males that have just separated from their mother.

What happened on 7th March 2010 (Sunday):


Parasher and I reached near Tadla ka khet by 1100 hours. We parked about a 100 meters away from where the tigers were lying dead and where there were three other forest department jeeps. By that time the forest guards and officers had tracked the entire area but I decided to do it again for my information. The Deputy Director and the other officers present informed us that a team of forest officers and guards were searching the village and the area around for the people who could have done this. One of the forest guards (Lakshmi Pandit, who I know well from before), told me that the guards from Tadla ki chowki had seen pugmarks of the tigers on the 4th and 5th March at some distance but did not find any pugmarks on the 6th. On the 7th morning while tracking this area they smelt rotting flesh and that is how they found the dead tigers.

We walked a short distance from there to the place where the one of cubs was lying dead. This tiger (tiger 1) was lying at the edge of a dry streambed (nallah). A few meters ahead along the same nallah we saw a carcass of a goat that had been almost totally consumed. The area around this goat’s carcass was full of tiger pugmarks. Between the goat’s carcass and the dead tiger there were two tiger scats and one patch of dark vomit. Lopped off branches of thorny Acacia tree were placed around the carcass in such a way that there was only one easy way (the one on the steam bed) to get to this carcass. This was obviously done to “lead” the tiger to the goat’s carcass. The Tadla ka khet village was not more than 500 meters (as the crow flies) from this place.

  • Tiger 1 – he was found at the edge of a dry streambed (nallah) a short distance away from the poisoned goat.

  • The dead goat that was poisoned and placed in the nallah.

  • Scat found near Tiger 1.

About 50 feet away from this goat’s carcass, on a low mud hill, there was a lot of goat hair lying on the ground. From this place there were drag marks and human footprints to a Salvadora tree. On top of this tree was a carcass of another goat and some branches were lopped off on this tree. It was clear that some people had dragged this goat’s carcass to the tree and then placed it on a branch of the tree after lopping some small branches off.

  • The second dead goat’s carcass that was found on top of a tree.

The body of the other male tiger (Tiger 2) was lying in the open, in a saucer shaped basin, about a 100 meters away from that of the first tiger’s body. This tiger’s body was not as badly decomposed as the first ones. In fact both the bodies were not too badly decomposed. Predators decompose really fast and usually there is nothing left in 3 or 4 days time, particularly in months like March, which are pretty hot. There were broad drag marks leading away from this tiger’s body. I followed these drag marks. The marks led to a small shady Acacia tree. It was obvious that this tiger (Tiger 2) had rested and vomited under this tree for some time and then he dragged himself from this tree to the point where he finally died. This was obvious from the width of the drag marks, which had “stretched out” pugmarks and vomit spots on them. There were hyena and jackals pugmarks all over the place and it was clear that some animal had tried to eat this tiger’s carcass but had given up. A part of this tigers flank was opened up but hardly anything at all was consumed.

  • Body of the second tiger (Tiger2) was lying in the open in a saucer shaped basin.

From reading the tracks around (I had a good couple of hours to do so) I concluded the following:

  • • These two tigers had killed two goats in the nallah.
  • • One of these two goats was dragged of by at least two people to a Salvadora tree and placed on top of the tree so that the tiger could not get to it.
  • • The other goat (the one that was eaten by the tigers) was left in the nallah, very close to where they were killed. It was this goat that was poisoned.
  • • The tigers had eaten the poisoned goat. Tiger 1 probably had the bulk of the meat and died close to the goat’s carcass. This tiger’s carcass was in a worse shape that the other one’s. The tongue was hanging out and the eyes had almost totally popped out of the socket.
  • • The other tiger managed to walk some distance and then rested under a tree, where he had vomited at least once. This tiger had then dragged himself some distance and then died.
  • • The goats were attacked in the daytime because around here goats are never left alone and are taken to an enclosure within the village when they are not being grazed in the dark. Goats are too weak and precious to be left alone overnight.

A little after noon, the team of veterinary doctor, forensic expert from Sawai Madhopur mobile Forensic unit, few other government officers and local police had arrived. By then almost all the officers of Ranthambhore tiger reserve, including the Field Director, four Assistant Conservator of Forests, two more Forest Rangers and many forest guards had arrived. Post mortem was conducted on the tigers and the goats and forensic samples were collected. A Field report was written up both Parasher and I signed it as independent witnesses. The carcasses of both the tigers and the goats were then burnt till there was nothing left. One interesting thing that the veterinary doctor told us that there were two cut marks (probably made with an axe) on the body of tiger 1. These were made after the tiger had died.

  • Autopsy was conducted on both the tigers on the spot and forensic samples were collected. The doctor and the forensic experts were sure that the tigers had died of poisoning.

Sometimes around noon some members of the team of forest officials who were searching the neighborhood for people came back to inform the DFO that they did not find any one in the Tadla ka khet village, except one young man and one old sick man. All of them had run away when they saw the first Forest Department jeep arrive. They did find a few women form the village in their fields on the Banas riverbed. The forest officers were interrogating this young man and some other people who were working in the fields on the riverbank (about half a kilometer away from this spot). A few of them informed us that the dead goats belonged to a man called Ram Khiladi Gujjar from Tadla ka khet. All through this time we could hear men shouting (to each other) and looking at the proceedings from top of the plateau. They were clearly visible but I could not make out what they were shouting. This went on for a few hours. We could see these people but to get to the top of the plateau would have taken any one of us more than an hour. So there was no chance of catching them.

It was close to sunset by then and most of us (Parasher, the doctors and forensic people etc) left. The entire forest department team stayed behind to conduct raids in the area.

I tried calling up the Deputy Director on Sunday night before I went to sleep but could not get through to him. They had not returned from the area of operation.

The next morning I called the Deputy Director as soon as I got up and what he told me was that they were conducting raids in the area till late in the night. They had managed to apprehend two main accused – Ram Khiladi Gujjar (the owner of the goats that had been killed by the tigers) and one of his friends / relatives Mukesh Gujjar. The Deputy Director also mentioned that these two main accused had told them that on the afternoon of the 4th March the two tigers had attacked the heard of goats and killed two goats. The tigers had injured a third goat that later died in the village. The herders managed to scare the two tigers off the kill. They put one of the goat’s body on top of the tree while they guarded the second goat’s body (to keep the tigers away). Ram Khiladi went to the nearby Khandar town and bought a bottle of strong pesticide (locally known as Aldrin though it is a different brand) and some syringes. He and Mukesh injected one of the goat’s carcass with this pesticide a number of times and poured the rest of the pesticide in the offal’s of the goat. They then left the poisoned goat in the nallah and cordoned a part of the nallah off with thorny branches. By the time they finished doing that it had become dark. That night the tigers did not return to the kill. However, the next night (on the 5th March) both the tigers came back and ate the entire poisoned goat. The two accused found the bodies of the tiger the next morning just after sunrise.

Unfortunately these two tigers died because the three goats that these two tigers killed were more precious for the herders than two living tigers. Rupees 2000 (about 40 US dollars) of financial loss for two people killed two living tigers. This unfortunately is the reality of tiger conservation in wild India and no amount of campaigning can change this. Unless a living tiger has financial value for most of the people who live near tiger habitats, tiger are not going to survive.


  • A note about me:
  • I have been living full time on the outskirts of Ranthambhore national park for the last 12 years. I know this park and the area around it very well. I have been to the park as a tourist, volunteer, worker, photographer, film crew and so on – more times than I can remember. My field tracking skills are reasonably good for forest guard standards – which in crude terms means that I can read the tracks way better than anyone who can read this. What I “concluded from reading the tracks” is very close to what the other officers and officials present there. We are talking about people who have a lot of experience on the ground.



46 thoughts on “Two tiger poisoned in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve

  1. Aditya,
    Was the village in question encroaching on reserve land? Has there been previous history of any other tigers going after domestic herds? Anyone tried talking to these village folks ? What next? I mean to avoid something like this happening again?

    • The village was at the edge of the tiger reserve but the goats were grazing within the reserve in the Keladevi sanctuary about a mile from the national park. Tiger do kill livestock as its easy prey. This is more so for young sub-adult tigers and old tigers. No one has tried talking to them. In fact there is no “anyone” and there no easy fast solutions. Sad but true.

  2. I think tis is because of isolation of conservators or forest dept. with that to villagers!!!!!!!
    there should b regular based correspondence or at least there should b such a days in week where villagers can share their problem offered by wild!!!!!! n conservators or FD can help to sort it out !!!!
    i bet they wouldnt hav njoyed poisioning it !!!!!
    there must b sum reason , in which the guy must hav thought this to b its last method to over come its difficulties!!!!!!!

  3. Is there any chance of something more than just plain revenge? The use of strong pesticide along with some cuts on the body makes me think there could be a motive for poaching. From my past field study, I remember some poachers adopting poisoning as mode of killing, but then would leave the carcass for couple of days to allow some decomposition of the skin and muscles. The poachers believed (and I could not ascertain why) that it would be easy for them to get away undetected. I would point out the group of poachers that I lived with were not interested in the skin at all. For them the main interest was the bones, whiskers and the claws.

  4. There is definitely more to this gruesome act. Are the villagers in the surrounds riddled with poverty. Until we can make this country a level playing field for all and we weed out corruption at the highest levels such sad tales will continue to astound us regularly. Thank you Aditya.

  5. Aditya,

    as far as I can remember from my past visits to Ranthambhore there are still a number of villages near the park periphery. A newspaper reported that the number of tigers in Ranthambore supposed to be 41 was more than what the park can support and hence the tigers are straying outside the park close to the villages. If this is true then it is bound to happen again. Relocating whole villages is a difficult task.. so is there any way out.. compensation for goats as they are killed? or relocating tigers to other parks sariska?

    what do you think?

    • @Sujoy: There are nearly a 100 villages in Ranthambhore national park’s periphery. The entire Ranthambhore tiger reserve has probably over 300 villages in its periphery.
      “A newspaper reported that the number of tigers in Ranthambore supposed to be 41 was more than what the park can support and hence the tigers are straying outside the park” – There is a joke being played by a section of the Rajasthan forest service who is at logger heads with another section. There are 41 (now 2 less) tigers in Ranthambhore tiger reserve which is 1400 square kilometers. The reserve consist of one small national park and three large sanctuaries. The national park (which is about 20% of the entire reserve) has about 30 or less tigers while the rest are in the sanctuaries which are part of the tiger reserve. Tiger move between the national park and the adjoining sanctuaries and this is very normal (has been happening for decades). In other words they are going from one part of the tiger reserve to the other. So how can they say that they are straying out? There is no forest at all outside the reserve and tigers can not live in agricultural field or towns.

  6. Forest Department should increase the amount given to owner of the Cattle,whne they kiiled by a wild animal like Tiger.Its I think only Rs. 500/- Per goat and lot of paper work….so they should increase that amount n make friendly relations with the Villagers only than one can take the support of them n do the proper work of conservation…

    • There is no compensation and rightly so for any livestock killed within the tiger reserve. Livestock should not be there in tiger reserves. It is illegal and to give compensation to criminals is plain crazy. Should compensation be given to poachers because they could not kill a tiger?

  7. An absolute tragedy!!!! perhaps a compensation fund can be set up to recompense locals for the loss of stock. This could be funded by donations from conservation groups and hunting groups which incidentally raise vast amounts for conservation purposes e.g. Safari Club International.
    Barry Bicknell Australia
    It is an absolute tragedy! – I wonder if any of the strategies used by the Snow Leopard conservancy in Laddakh would be worth having a look at! What is going to happen to other young male tigers who stray out of the main protection areas due to population overload?? It is a real tragedy for this endangered animal and really sad for those who work so hard to preserve and protect them!
    Jo Bicknell (Australia)

    • Stray out where Barry? There is no forest outside the reserve. This incident happened inside the reserve. There is no population overload – that will happen in Ranthambhore tiger reserve when there are 200 tigers and not when there are 40. 40 tigers in 1400 square kilometers is not an overload by any standards.

  8. A sad and a gruesome act..whoever has done it. What needs immediate attention is addressing the issue of survivability of these creatures without any harm to the local populace. It needs revamping of our forest dept as regards awareness,and ability to avoid such incidents in future.

  9. The bitter truth about this pitiful tragedy is the abject poverty of the villagers in isolated pockets still remaining in the peripary of the Reserved Forests….ofcourse the goats were much more valuable to the villagers than the two predators…There is no ‘inclusion’ of villagers living both within and without national forests, as in Africa, in the drive towards sustainability, so that instead of having to eke out a harsh living as they do now, they could be amalgamated into the various areas which make up a National Park…Game Lodges, Game wardens, trekers, guards,drivers etc etc. To offer them a life of dignity associated with the preservation of the forest denizens is something that HAS to be contemplated and worked upon.Unless Man befriends the Wild World, there can be no hope…..Wildlife tourism is such a draw world-wide.Villagers MUST be included, trained and helped…not isolated to find a way for themselves in pitiless poverty…

  10. What a fantastic and graphic report – it brings all aspects of the issue to life. So sad that two tigers lost their lives for two goats but this also gives some perspective on how valued livestock is by the villagers.

  11. Thks Adiyta

    I did think it was strange that they were talking about overload in Ranthambhore.. 41 tigers is not much in such a big area! However the problem somehow seems to be without any ready solution

  12. Thks Aditya,

    I too was surprised that they were referring to 41 tigers ( now 39) as an overload.. the problem with the villagers does not have any ready solution it seems.. thats the tragedy of our national parks.

  13. Everytime one hears of a poaching incident, one feels numb and defeated. Aircel camapigns of “Save the Tiger” suddenly looks like a fantasy video game as against ground realities.

  14. Dear Aditya
    the problem seems to me is setting the priority. When the villagers asked for a compensation to the department they faced such humiliation and rudeness in many a places that they don’t feel like going to them again. For them a goat means food, health and so wealth. they cant afford to loose that. so they are harming the threat!
    If you are there for the whole year, pls ensure a simple compensation procedure with minimum question and fast reimbursement. From my point of view, this will help to reduce such incident in future. You cant shift that whole village, you cant stop goats’ grazing, and you cant even stop the tigers to attack them. A tiger means a lack of goat may be a crore of goat. We cant afford to loose a tiger for a goat!! We are natures’ mate. but poor indeed!! otherwise i will surely donate the initial fund to the tiger reserve to create a instant re-embursement fund. But if that fund is created i will definitely donate what ever is possible from my side all the time. Its a promise from all the natures’ mate. Arjan

  15. Hi Aditya,
    This is a very tragic incident and I know that there are no quick fixes for that. Guys like you are doing a lot for what’s remaining of wildlife in India. Incidents like this will instill anger(a hint I got from your replies) and rightly so but one needs to be motivated.
    Isolation, compensation, relocation… are big fancy words far from ground reality as you know it.
    A collective effort from the government and from all of us is the only way out. Thanks for doing your bit.


  16. Hi Aditya,

    It is a tragedy. You have rightly mentioned, the problem does not have a simple solution. There are very few people like you who are concerned about the wildlife or conservation. Though I understand your point of view about not paying the herders, I can not fathom any other way as of now. In this battle of conservation v/s livelyhood, our wildlife seems to be loosing.

    Like Ankur already mentioned, a big thank you for doing your bit and some more. I hope we still have some wildlife left by the time my son grows up to be able to appreciate it.


  17. Our current lot of younger politicians are well-travelled and well-read. They need to take a page out of East and South Africa,both with similar socio-economic problems as ours, where entire tribes of bushmen have been integrated into the mainstream tourism as Wild Life and Jungle Tour Guides, after being given pertinent vocational training and being taught basic but essential soft-skills, necessary for interacting with international visitors.

    This has created sustainable alternatives and income sources for the tribal populace,while also spreading an awareness that their economic emancipation is contingent upon the wellness of the Wild Animals that draw the tourists – who in turn, are their meal-ticket.

    Will our next generation have to learn about Tigers from another “Jurassic Park” ? I hope not !

    Shame on us if we cannot stem this mindless carnage and rape of the forest flora & fauna!

    God bless the efforts of those directly involved, like Aditya.


  18. Dear Aditya,

    As an animal lover I am shocked to see the pictures.I strongly feel the Government should enact laws to hold such heinous killings on par with manslaughter.

  19. hi Aditya
    Read your blog and must say I am saddened but not surprised. A professional park service ( not the sadly understaffed and underskilled ones that we have) and a clear vision that people inside parks is not a good idea unless their sole livelihood is linked to the health of the park and the animals therein, is what is needed. I can visualise this place so clearly having been there on a couple of occasions. The tigers looked healthy and almost fully grown.
    Jairam Ramesh ji I hopw you are seeing this wanton destruction. Get those villages moved sir. We have had lot of successful experiments in many places with public/private partnerships. Please study the Melghat model alongwith the ABN AMRO Foundation

  20. Hi, Touched that I am by the plight of the tigers, it is equally nauseating to read advises of people sitting thousands of miles away without a clue of what is happening. The truth is that we do not have the guts to acknowledge the fact that the tigers are doomed. So are the rest of the animals in our over populated country. Is it any use boasting our GDP growth when 105 million people live below the poverty line? This habitat problem is pre-dominant in the Sunderbans, close to where I stay. We can create awareness against poaching, tell people not buy tiger products, I personally do as much as I can in those lines. But what can we do or suggest in such situations of abject poverty vs plight of the tigers? It is beyond me and without any offence beyond most of us. The fate of the majestic animals have been sealed. Without a shadow of doubt.

  21. here are some solutions i have seen working elsewhere:
    [a] livestock insurance for every family- sometimes charitable donors/groups pay the premium; in any case because of low claim value, dues are paid without scrutiny subject to submission of carcass; claims are voided by poison or other human intervention.
    [b] running escort/hospitality/other services through a co-operative of villagers so that profits are shared by all in addition to salary received by the many who do the actual job, sometimes on ‘badli’ basis; till this is formed, an annuity scheme
    [c] shitfting villagers from free-ranging livestock to fenced/corraled livestock rearing to avoid contact with tigers
    with best regards and thanks/ pradeep gooptu/ kolkata/ +919831005765

  22. Dibyajyoti- never give up – keep up the fight- overseas people have helped make a difference all around the world with various schemes because they support rather than advise.

    Aditya- well done with your story – the mark of a passionate man – the type it takes to get things done .Interesting to read your comment that livestock is illegal in the reserve yet it is tolerated -by whom !!

  23. Wonderfully composed. Makes the scene come alive.

    Since there is such pressure on the land, would it not be practical to-
    a) Decide the number of tigers that can be safely managed in a sanctuary. This will depend upon the available area and staff.

    b) Create a buffer zone say 3 km wide- in which only grazing is permitted and neither tigers nor human settlements are allowed

    c) Breed excess tigers in captivity- This will prevent the killing of a tiger on which considerable investment has been incurred.

    The killings are disheartening but at the same time one does not feel very comfortable condemning the poor villagers who lost their goats. Literally!!

  24. hi Aditya,
    You have done a very good job.Merely by giving an advertisement in the media about the number of tigers left in the country does not in any way help to protect them. This fact should reach every individual who truly loves nature and think in the same manner…….. as u have tried to convey the message of what is really happening out there in the wilderness.
    I am sure that there are a number of organisations all over the world which are working in the right directions to protect the wild life and not just publishing informations on the statistics of wild life.
    Kudos to u Aditya!

  25. Aditya, it was fascinating to read your very precise report. I have been to Ranthambhore a few times flying helicopters and have seen the commercialisation of the area. We do need to save the tiger but what about the poor people who live on the fringes of the park. The reason they let their cattle graze inside the park is beacause not enough grazing area is available. It is a battle for survival for both, the humans and the animals.
    To save the tiger these villages have to be suitably relocated. That is a job for the govt and not the conservators.

  26. Gurgaon 19/3/2010
    Hi Aditya,
    1.First of all my appreciation and felicitations for the exemplary hard work that you have been doing ” on ground.” – while the rest of us (self included) only cheer lustily from the side lines.
    2. To state the obvious, as a nation we have failed the noblest predator to have walked the earth.
    3. No gainsaying that man and beast cannot coexist given the weakness and utter lack of will of the “system”. It may be worth our collective while to personally meet The Prime Minister and to petition him reminding him of the public commitment that he made towards conservation and protection of “THE KING”.
    4. Should such a group be formed i shall more than willingly lend my whole hearted support and time. Who knows we may, collectively, come up with a simple and effective solution not yet expounded by any of the “Chair borne experts!”
    5. I end with reiterating my appreciation and take my hat off to you.
    Colonel Hardeep Sinh 09818426481

  27. Gurgaon 22/3/10
    Hi Aditya,
    My felicitations for the exemplary work that you have been doing while the rest of only cheer lustily from the side lines.To state the obvious we, as a nation, have failed the proudest predator to have stalked the planet.The “save the tigers” programme is doomed to failure given the utter lack of commitment, vision and professionalism of the authorities concerned coupled with the lack of political will.It may be worth our while to petition The P.M. to remind him of his commitment.Should such a group be formed i will effectively contribute my time & effort.
    Colonel Hardeep Sinh 09818426481

  28. Hi Son,

    I have been through the entire scene narrated by you and am proud of your lone and courageous fight, on the ground and else where, for the cause of the Tiger. I am as hurt and sad as you are at this avoidable loss.

    To arrive at a meaningful solution, let us examine and think of the reasons or the motives of the villagers involved in such wonton acts.I feel it was not just the loss of the three goats they suffered but the fear of losing more as the tigers might have started frequenting the place for easy prey. The tiger being a powerful predator,the locals may have been fearful of not just their livestock but their lives and livelihood, as well. Their goats are protected by a mere dry thorny bush enclosure high enough to prevent them from escaping and the villagers themselves live in flimsy thatched huts. They all sleep in the open at night, to protect their livestock and some have to go out long distances all alone at night to guard their crops from other amimals eg Nilgai. Their women and children move around and work in the fields both by day and night. The thought of meeting two near full grown tigers any time and any where in the area,would be unnerving, if not frightening for even an armed man. This would bring their meagre life to a stand still. I feel, perhaps, it was this perceived wide spread threat or fear of the Tigers which made them take this recourse.

    This by no means is to defend their action. But this may be the truth, as I remember, as a child, in the forties of the last century,in our own village, a family of leopards was wiped out,in the jungle near by, because they started preying on dogs and goats, in our village. Though they shied away from human beings, any one who spotted them ran for his life, shouting for help. We saw one on our way to school to the next village and stopped our schooling. There appeared panic all around and then all villagers decided to eliminate this danger and joined in to hunt them down and finally killed six of them with sticks (Lathies) over three days. Since wild life was plentiful then, no cognigence of this offence was taken. If such be the problem or the perception of the men living a fragile life on the fringe of the wild,with tiger not knowing any thing about it, we have to address it to the liking of both. It is a huge problem and can only be solved at the Government level.

    You and I don’t kill tigers while all appeals by MS Dhoni and Baichung Bhutia are made to us, as we watch TV. Are we barking the wrong tree all the time, like our officials, applying easy and wrong remedies to this problem. We have to reach out to that man in the thatched hut, who is compelled to poison them for his own survival to find the answer there. Till he is convinced, satisfied and begins to cooperate, there is no answer to this problem and we will keep losing these noblest of creatures.

    Till the Tiger begins to mean some thing to that man, in the form of a means of livelihood, he will not help but continue to destroy them for fear or profit. Can we consider employing one person from each village if not house to protect the tiger in his area, the same way you or your brother did, with people fishing in Ram Ganga with explosives for food or money? Once it became their livelihood they stopped poaching and patrolled the river as their job to prevent others from doing it. It was an affordable sustainable conservation.


  29. Hi Mr Adithya
    It is a really touching blog and a very sad sight to see two majestic animals, who could have been another machali had gone from this world for two goats ( or as some body was suggesting for bones & claws which actually has no value other than it will satisfy an unhealthy / superstitious mind ?)
    Pradeep Goptu’s suggestion seems to be workable one. Why don’t we all change the tiger’s plight (with stress on to this story) in to something which will attract internet traffic (which definitely will!!) and sell ad space (sell it in whichever way possible) and find the initial money for setting up a parallel non government system, which will insure all the cattle in all the 100 villages (or at least some to start with)only against tiger kills. If we keep the insured amount for more than what the animal is actually worth, may be at least then some villagers will stop seeing tiger as their enemy ( may be they will even pray for their cattle to be eaten by a tiger).
    I fully agree on your view that cattle should not be there in sanctuary. But shifting 100 + villages or finding alternate income sources to 300000 villagers are not an easy task and it will take a lot of time (as per Indian or any stds) even if we are fortunate enough to have a strong leader (in any party! which we dont have right now!) and if we don’t start acting , our next generation will never see this animal.
    As a stop gap we can round up a group of enthusiastic guys (web developer / marketing guys/ creative writers / wild life and sociology experts) and do this to bring some revenue. We can accept contributions also. We should try to convince an insurance company to do this on really low funds (they can also use the tiger conservator image for advertisement) This may work out . Why don’t we try this?
    Pls let me know if we can communicate further on this ?
    I am writing this sitting in Sawai madhopur forest rest house and I have not seen Ranthambor yet! I WILL SEE it tomorrow in the morning safari ! But will it remain for my son to see and for the generations after!!

  30. It is so sad and painful to see the most magnificient living being and the king of jungle to be lying dead (murdered).
    It is even more sad to know that some people have such little hearts.

  31. dear aditya,

    chanced upon your blog. having read a few of your posts one realizes the richness of experience (and knowledge) held by a person working on the ground. having lived so closely with your ear to the ground, you are able to see and present the various layers of complexity of the situation. unfortunately none of this valuable knowledge seems to ever find it way back up to the policy makers, other authorities in the higher echelons, and the ‘peddlers of conservation’ – or perhaps they couldn’t care. We seem to suffer the top-down syndrome in almost every aspect of life. As a filmmaker – I often feel it is tremendously important to communicate the experience of people like you to the world at large – just to tell people how complex it is and it is always simpler to find a scapegoat (pun unintended) for the problems – which is how the mainstream media and the Save-the-Tiger bandwagon would have us believe.
    great stuff – your pictures, writing and insights.

  32. Dear Aditya
    Very lucid report of this unfortunate incident. Equally interesting replies from all over the world but especially the reply from your father. As he has rightly pointed out it is the fear of a predator or a leopard that makes people kill them. In a similar incident 3 leopards were killed within a span of one week not very far from where I live. In fact I came across one of the bodies on my morning walk!. There has been wanton destruction of wildlife habitat all over India. This loss of habitat results in straying of wildlife close to humans resulting into human animal conflict in which the animal stands no chance of winning…
    20 years back when I was in school, our town was surrounded bu thick forested hills. Now, there’s hardly a tree left standing.. And even now whatever tree cover is there, that is being taken down everyday..
    Another thing that your father has pointed out… Unless the poor villager has something to gain from keeping the wild animals alive, there is no hope (for the animals). Only if their livelihood depends upon survival of animals, may be through tourism …then only there’s a chance. Otherwise we will see demise of our national animal not too far in future….
    Btw I stayed at Ranthambore Bagh back in Dec ’07 in my first ever visit to a national park. It was meant to be a small part of our Rajasthan trip but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip!!
    Since then I and my wife were hooked, and have visited Kanha, Pench, Satpura and Kruger in SA as well!!

  33. the truth is that the tiger hasnt killed the goat,the people who killed the tiger made up a story of revenge against the tiger,actually they want to hunt tigers so that they can sell it to the pouchers, so they poisoned the goat at their expense and placed the goats in the forest

  34. Dear Shri Aditya,
    Read your report and felt sorry for the tigers which are really precious now-a-days as far as wild life is concerned. I feel a buffer zone is to be made and the villagers should be relocated near this buffer zone. Moreover, some of the villagers should be provided with jobs in the Sanctuary as watchers or so and be paid on daily wages. This will make them attached to the reserve and also makes them earn a little , may be little more than what they earn with goats. The same practice of providing jobs for the tribal people in some of the Kerala forests had made a good milestone in protecting the forests and wildlife and at the same time they are relocated in the buffer zone or nearer to it. In Parambikulam forests, which is recently declared as a Tiger reserve in the Palghat District of Kerala, the practice of providing daily waged jobs for the tribes are introduced and most of the youngsters are deeply involved in these activities. They work as waiters, watchers, temporary guides, kitchen attendants, and so on. Each one is getting around Rs.200/- to 250/- per day for 25 days in a month atleast. Almost all of these tribal people were living inside the forest for so many years and now they started a feeling that they were never thrown out of “their world”.
    Dear Shri. Aditya, why can’t you use your good influences make this suggestion workable in Ranthambhore. Goodluck.

  35. we recently visited Ranthambhore, (19-20 March 2011), the state of affairs at such highly acclaimed tiger sanctuary was hugely disappointing. Tiger the main asset of this region, is directly or indirectly making the living of a huge population, but is not being cared for. the guides tell that not 35 or 40 but just 10-15 tigers are left, no doubt we could not spot one even in three safaris. The callous attitude of Rajasthan govt is evident by such dwindling number, on the other hand Gujarat Govt has success stories with lions. people were claiming to move in unauthorised way in the sanctuary, agents for booking the safaris are running another racket, all in all it raised many ugly questions.. are we really interested in saving tigers?..

    • I think you met the wrong guides. I have seen 12 different tigers in the last week in the tourism zone (about 40% of the park). Just because you did not see one tiger in 3 safaris does not mean that they are not there.

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