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How not to get killed by a tiger?

Updated on December 20, 2017
pateluday profile image

Uday works as a naturalist and birding guide in India. His love for wildlife and nature encourages him to blog and write articles.

Bengal Tiger

It is called a Bengal Tiger because of its large presence in Sunderban National Park in West Bengal in India. The tiger is at the top of the food chain and is a tertiary carnivore. It is also called the apex predator.

Placed at the top of the food pyramid it naturally becomes an indicator species. The animal thrives in forest ecosystems and tall swampy grasslands but not in open scrub and small cropped grasslands.

For centuries the tiger has been known to kill humans even though man is not a part of its food chain. These big cats are called man eaters and often shot dead. There are some tigers who kill humans by accident but do not eat them. These are called man killers and usually do not repeat the act.

But once a big cat becomes a habitual man eater than it has to be captured or shot. As per recent rules the animal is first tried to be captured in a cage after being tranquillised. This animal is then transferred to a zoo. If it is not possible to capture the animal alive then it is shot after the permission is granted by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State in India .

Hence keeping the above in mind a tiger may be lurking around you when you are in its home. On nature trek you should stay away from dense thickets where a the predator could be hiding. Making noise, keeping a watch on surroundings and keeping close to companions will protect you from an accidental tiger attack in its habitat.

Bengal Tiger Photo

Maneating tigers

Let me make it clear tigers are thorough gentlemen and do not kill for fun or to satiate some hidden blood thirst as most of the people on Earth believe.

They kill deer, monkeys, wild boar, sambar, bison and other creatures only for food. They are meat eaters by biological necessity. Their job is to control the population of herbivores so that the ecosystem is not overgrazed by them.

When on a safari you often go on foot tracking tigers or other animals in the forest. You must move cautiously so that there is no chance of an accidental encounter with a predator. This can be life threatening if the big cat is surprised and frightened, then he may kill in self defence. Keep making a noise or talk loudly with your partner if you cannot see through the thickets on your way.

Always keep your ear and eyes open, tigers give telltale signs of their presence and when they do not other animals do. But at times they can be incredibly silent and hidden at unexpected places in the forest. Thus when you trek in the forest keep your eyes and ears open and tread on the open path. If you have to wade through a bush then sit down make some noises and if a tiger does not emerge from the thicket then thank God and walk through.

Normally Bengal tigers shy away from humans, and when you encounter one in the wild...this is what is going to happen...they often attack...if you back away in time good for you. But sometimes the big cat cannot move away due to injury then it is wiser for you to back out.

It can be dangerous if you walk into a female with cubs. Move back immediately and keep an eye for the cubs who may be loitering around. You should by no means go near the cubs, if you do the female will charge and you are a dead duck...Oh I mean a dead man. Tigresses are very protective mothers and edgy so be careful.

In case of a man eater, none of the above will work for he becomes an expert in killing humans by learning their ways fast. Avoid forests which report a presence of a man eater. And if you happen to be the first one to know be assured it is not too late. People will realize the truth after seeing your carcass.

Remember tigers can appear anywhere near their habitat. Under any circumstances walk on an open path where you can see your surroundings well. Always enter the forest in the company of a guide or a friend.

Else stay back in your hotel room and go far a safari in the park on the jeep. This way your safety is assured.

Most of the incidence of conflict with man is due to habitat encroachment and injury, most often caused by a poacher's bullet in old days. Most of the attacks in India are in defence whence a man moves too close and frighten it.

As an exception some tigers do kill humans who intrude into dense forest in Sunderbans, The reason for abnormal behaviour is not known and is a matter of study. People are requested to stay out of Sunderbans to avoid man animal conflict.

Tiger Pictures

Tiger Walk
Tiger Walk | Source

Tiger Attack Video

Tiger Photo

Tiger | Source

How Man Eaters are Born?

Tiger and other big cats are known not to kill humans for food. The reasons could be many but I am sure our getup and past experience of the tigers deter them to go after humans. Man has been very aggressive towards these predators and hence they have learned to avoid him.

But even if we are not part of tiger's food chain sometimes instance of man eating occurs. They do attack humans in self defence if a mock charge does not work. Hence on first aggression we should move away in such a manner that the animal has room to escape.

Most of the attacks in India are due to extreme proximity near these big cats. Most of the times the animal is taken by surprise and feels threatened. The charge is natural. But only in few instances the tiger eats human flesh. Once the animal regularly kills humans for food he is declared as a man eater.

Invalidity is another reason for a hungry tiger to go after the humans. The animal is sometimes injured by hunters or in a territorial fight. If the injury is substantial hunting becomes difficult and hence he goes after a soft target like man.

Some time collectors of forest produce which are mostly women stumble upon these animals in dense canopy and get killed. It is a tigress with cubs death is assured.

Instances of healthy tiger attacking humans is very rare and this could be described as aberrant behaviour.

Tiger Pictures

Male Tiger
Male Tiger

Territory Marking

Scent marking by tiger
Scent marking by tiger | Source

Be Alert

If you are regularly visiting tiger forests then being hyper alert will help you. Keep your eyes and ears open for any telltale sign of the big cat. You should be in touch with the locals who inform you of their presence.

You should avoid the forest if there is a presence of tigress with cubs, aggressive male tiger and even leopards. The local herdsmen who venture into the forest often encounter these big animals and hence they are excellent source of news. While trekking in the jungle you should keep in making sounds so as the alert the predators and avoid a surprise close encounter.

Many animals relax or sleep during the day time hence this is the best time for birding and trekking. Gun is not allowed in the protected forests since it is illegal to shoot or kill anything wild in India.

Tiger in Grass

Tiger in Grassland
Tiger in Grassland | Source

History of Man Eating in India

Most noticeable instance of man eating by tigers have taken place in the Kumaon region and Nainital District of Uttaranchal in India. Attack on man and man eating takes place every year in Sunderban Tiger Reserve in West Bengal.

The region surrounding Dudhwa National Park is also subjected to sporadic instances of man eating. The famous elephant safari destination in India Corbett NP is subject to frequent tiger attacks on villagers in the periphery. In recent times there have been frequent attacks on women who encroach into the animal's habitat.

Now and then attacks do take place on people near the animal's habitats. Most of these attacks are fatal but the animal not necessarily resort to man eating after the kill. A tiger becomes a man eater once he regularly targets humans and consumes them.

Several books have been written on hunting and man eating tigers in India. Jim Corbett the legendary hunter turned conservationist wrote many books on man eating tigers and leopards. Some of the popular ones are "Man eater of Kumaon", "The Temple Tiger" and "More Man-Eaters of Kumaon".

Leopard Image

A leopard in the jungle
A leopard in the jungle | Source

Male Tiger

Male Tiger at Khitauli
Male Tiger at Khitauli | Source

On Tiger Safari

The best way to see the tiger in wild India is on safaris in the reserves. These safaris are organised by the departments concerning the tiger reserves. The excursions are conducted in open jeeps which venture very close to the big cat.

The park authorities conduct these excursions using stringent set of rules. You as tourist have to follow the rules else you could be killed by the tiger. First and foremost rule is not to get down from the jeep. Second do not shout make noise or get agitated whence the tiger comes too close. Do not try to touch the animal whence it is very close. This happens sometimes but not always.

Most of the luxury hotels are situated within the forest confines in buffer zones of the reserves. Do not walk alone in the forest. If you go for a nature trek make sure you are in company of the nature guide. Trek in company of your friends. Tigers and leopards roam these forests and a close encounter could be fatal. Always watch where you are going.

Tiger Cub

Tiger Cub in the Forest of India
Tiger Cub in the Forest of India | Source

Accounts of Man Eating Tigers

Kumoan Region in Himalayan Foot Hills

Carpet Sahib as Jim Corbett was known tracked and hunted down many tigers and leopards who had killed people in large numbers. The anecdotal accounts of his brave hunts are written in many books he published.

Tiger Quiz

Are Tiger Dangerous for Humans?

See results

© 2008 Uday Patel


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    Post Comment

    • pateluday profile imageAUTHOR

      Uday Patel 

      4 years ago from Jabalpur, MP, India

      One can act foolish and get killed. This is the case with most man killing incidents.

    • souvikm16 profile image

      Souvik Mukherjee 

      4 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Though I liked the hub and voted up, I am a little confused about the title! You have mentioned yourself that Tigers don't attack without apparent provocation or circumstantial compulsions, which is the truth anyways, hence mentioning the title as 'How not to gt killed by a tiger' got me a little confused :)

    • pateluday profile imageAUTHOR

      Uday Patel 

      5 years ago from Jabalpur, MP, India

      Thanks Peter. Tigers are natures pure magic!

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear pateluday,

      Fascinating and well written article. What superb creatures Tigers are and we should learn to respect them. Voted up.

      Kind regards Peter


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