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THE TIGER NEXT DOOR Living with man-eating Tigers

Updated on April 1, 2013
Map of the Sudarbans
Map of the Sudarbans
Tiger eating a Spotted Deer
Tiger eating a Spotted Deer

The Bengal Tiger

Imagine being afraid to take a walk in your own neighborhood or even your own backyard. Imagine that there were ferocious predators stalking your hometown. In Bangladesh this fear is very real, and it is known as the Bengal Tiger.

The Royal Bengal Tiger is one of the most spectacular of the big cats, but also one of the most deadly. It is a super-predator, and once was very numerous and successful in Asia. They are native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Now one of their biggest populations lies in the Sundarbans located in southern Bangladesh and India. The Tigers can measure up to 8-10 feet long from head to tail and can weigh over 500 pounds.

The average prey animals of the Tiger are

  • · Rhesus Monkeys
  • · Spotted Deer
  • · Axis Deer
  • · Marsh Deer
  • · Wild Boar
  • · Otters

However if Tigers are weakened by injury, sickly, or just too old to hunt for normal prey animals, they wouldn’t hesitate to hunt Humans.Tigers in the Sundarbans Mangrove Forests of Southern Bangladesh are a different story. These Tigers tend to attack and kill Humans on a regular basis. Some people say it is because Human settlements encroach on the tigers territory. Others say it’s because the Tiger has learned to fear Man as a threat due to overhunting in Asia. Still others say we’re just natural enemies. Whatever the case one thing is for certain, Tigers have been killing people in this region on a regular basis for at least the past 2 centuries. These statistics would suggest that the Bengal Tiger is one of the most deadly of the big cats.

According to an Ezine article

by Madan_G_Singh it is estimated that 300,000 people

have been killed by Tigers in the past 200 years.

A captured tiger being released back into the wild by fishermen
A captured tiger being released back into the wild by fishermen

Possible reasons for Tiger attacks

The Sundarbans is a unique environment because it experiences extreme fluctuations in tide. Whole areas of land are washed away by swelling rivers everyday, and then just as quickly as the tide rises, it recedes leaving behind muddy banks. Most tigers are nocturnal hunters or night hunters, but not the tigers of the Sundarbans. They have been known to attack day and night. This is because tigers that live in the Sundarbans have to live their lives according to the tide. Add insult to injury that the only water source these tigers get on a regular basis is saltwater brought in by the tide. Large mammals become stressed when drinking saltwater and lash out. The final challenge for tigers living in the mangrove swamps is that everyday the scent marks that tigers spray to mark their territory are washed away, leaving the tiger without a set territory and forced to spray again. Think of it like having your home washed away everyday and having to rebuild. These particular circumstances cause the tigers a high level of stress and many move from the south to the north where people have settled villages.

Tigers have been observed swimming for miles to search for food
Tigers have been observed swimming for miles to search for food

Swimming Tigers

Fishermen from organized tribal villages that lie just outside The Sundarbans have there livelihood out in the Mangrove swamps throwing great nets into the water to catch large quantities of fish, crabs, shrimp, lobster, and turtles. When they come back they can feed the entire village and sell seafood in the markets. These are the only means for these people to survive after Cyclone Sidr [November 2007] and Cyclone Aila [May 2009] destroyed villages and forced them to move inland. However there is great risk involved even when on the open water. Tigers can swim. And they will swim great distances if they have to because in the Sundarbans the waters rise in the monsoon season and become a series of island chains. If the Tiger doesn’t swim they don’t eat.

Local fishermen with backwards masks
Local fishermen with backwards masks

There have been many instances where a Tiger has jumped onto fishing boats and dragged helpless victims into the water. There have also been cases of Tiger entering villages and even homes and killing villagers. There are currently approximately 500 Bengal Tigers living in the Sundarbans.

Conflict with Humans is threatening these numbers all the time as a result of people killing invading Tigers. One news article by Monirul Alam a photojournalist from Dhaka talks about a Bengal Tiger that killed a 40-year-old woodcutter called Mabud in the mangrove forest when he was collecting firewood in the area of Char-Shesher. One of his fellow woodcutters, Abul Sarder, stated that five of them ventured into the jungle to collect firewood and suddenly a tiger attacked them. ‘When we had escaped we realised that Mabud had not. We tried to save him but failed to fight off the tiger.' Finally the villagers rallied a group large enough to fend off the Tiger and were able to recover Mabud's dead body. Later on that Tiger had returned to the village looking for his meal. The villagers mobbed the Tiger with bats, pipes, and rocks and killed it.

There is one way that fishermen have found to help repel tiger attacks. The men wear masks on the backs of they're heads to fool the tiger and keep them from sneaking up from behind. This worked for a while and attacks had decreased. However the tigers have plenty of times to observe human behavior and some of them have grown wise to this trick. In 2012 the number of tiger attacks have increased once again.

Villagers carrying away Mabud's mutilated body
Villagers carrying away Mabud's mutilated body | Source

Monirul Alam

The Tiger after being slain by villagers
The Tiger after being slain by villagers | Source

According to the article Thirty people were killed by tigers in Bangladesh last year, and three tigers by people. On average estimates range from 50-250 people per year. Keen to preserve the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger, the local government’s advice to people who are invaded by Tigers is to contact the forest ranger, who will arrive with a tranquilizer gun. But that can take up to 12 hours. So the villagers decide to take matters into their own hands for survival.

In my opinion, the words of one villager interviewed by Monirul Alam on the scene where Mabud was killed tells it all, “We enter the jungle searching for food and the tiger kills us, the tiger comes to our village, we kill the Tiger”. I think it would be smarter if the government wants to protect Tigers they should issue tranquilizer guns to people that are forced to live in close proximity to them.


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    • ChrisIndellicati profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York, NY

      "If anything, the government should intervene and get the people out of there, because if it becomes an all-out war between people and tigers, the tigers will doubtless go extinct, and that would just be depressing."

      I totally agree with you though. Their government SHOULD do something about it and the people should relocate. I don't know what really keeps them there except maybe they don't know how to live any other way or the finacial means to relocate. I know the meager economy they do have is based largely on the mangrove swamps and what the get from it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Personally, I don't think they're forced to live anywhere. There are many, many places all around the world for people to live, and almost none for tigers. If they are dying in such numbers, they should relocate. There are mangrove swamps from Australia to Florida, and none of them have tigers except this one. Why be so stubborn about it? If anything, the government should intervene and get the people out of there, because if it becomes an all-out war between people and tigers, the tigers will doubtless go extinct, and that would just be depressing ='( Interesting article, if not a tiny bit one-sided =/

    • ChrisIndellicati profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York, NY

      Thats right a Tiger knows that it can't be tamed this is why they have to be respected and given a wide berth. There was a recent incident right here in Bronx Zoo in NY where a man climbed into a tiger exhibit to be with them. He was mauled but survived the encounter but what was this guy thinking?

    • profile image

      Mowdudur Rahman 

      7 years ago

      Human could able to convert so many wildlife into domesticated (evolution process) and rare as pet animal but NOT the tiger because of its heroism, courage and strength. In Sundarbans mangrove forest we still see wildfowl, wildboar, jungle cat those are common in the homestead. Tiger is the exception that may be reason why we introduce the nation of tiger, the image. Bengal tiger is our pride.

    • ChrisIndellicati profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York, NY

      Definitely I agree people need to know about these animals and can't be living so close to their territories. As far as urban areas goes I don't think people that live in fishing villages would be able to acclimate well, but I suppose it's a better alternative than being eaten.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • foysal8990 profile image


      7 years ago

      Your article is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

    • ChrisIndellicati profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      This of course is a sad truth. I do believe they are beautiful, but powerful creatures. They need to be treated with respect and caution. The reason I wrote this article is because many people don't know that unfortunately some people are forced to live in close proximity to these tigers and this is a mutual danger to both our species. Most of this is likely to to poverty and the fact that after these hurricanes hit the region. It's a messed up situation that gets little press.

    • YogaKat profile image


      8 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Very interesting and awesome hub . . . I didn't know tigers could swim. A Shrinking Population . . this info was on one of your article links:

      The number of Bengal tigers left in the wild has shrunk from 100,000 to about 4,000 over the last century. The main threats are loss of habitat, poaching, loss of prey and the trade in tiger parts for Eastern medicines. Most Bengal tigers now live in protected areas of India. Anti-poaching task forces have been set up and there is also a trade ban on tiger products in many countries.

    • ChrisIndellicati profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks Fashion

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is interesting and informative hub.


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