What does it take to be Registered as a Shikari( hunter) for man Eating Tigers
Hunting a man eater
India is the home of the tiger and this is one big cat that is native to the entire sub-continent from the Sunder bans (Famous for the Bengal Tiger), the Kumaon hills and Deep South in the thick forests of Siruvani and Topslip. The tiger is a protected species in India and hunting it is banned under the Wild Life Act. A prison term up to 7 years is specified in the act for killing a species termed as protected in the act. The law can be stringent as was learnt by Film Actor Salman Khan, who was sentenced to a prison term of 5 years for shooting a black buck in the state of Rajasthan. The case is under appeal and pending hearing in the high court.
The Big Cats are Protected, but....
The big cats are loved by all and are a protected species, but unlike the deer’s and black bucks the Tiger in particular often turns into a man eater. This could be for a variety of reasons like a tiger aging or getting injured. In such a scenario a tiger will find the human prey the easiest kill for his food. Once a tiger turns a man eater, he is a ruthless beast. He is also very clever and will evade anybody sent to hunt him as well as look for single and lonely villagers on a trek to kill.
Tiger Tales and Man Eaters
In India tales of man eating tigers abound and they have been immortalized by that great tiger hunter Jim Corbett in his ‘Man Eating Tiger of Rudraprayag’. There was also Kenneth Anderson who also shot man eating tigers. There is an excellent Hollywood film on the subject “ Harry Black and the Tiger” with Stewart Granger and Indian actor IS Johar.
Many of the man eaters terrorize the lonely villages and records indicate that some of them have killed hundreds of villagers. Jim Corbett mentions that one tigress which he shot dead had killed over 300 villagers. There are documented case of tigers spiriting away children from the arms of their mother.
The Bengal Tiger
Generally it is an accepted fact that the Bengal tiger is the most ferocious beast and also very cunning. Its habitat is the water logged Sunder bans delta of the Ganges and to top it this tiger species is also an excellent swimmer. There are many cases in the Sunderbans of tigers quietly following a boat and spiriting away one of the villagers, who go deep into the forest to collect Honey. In such cases a tiger will slowly swim behind the boat and take the victim at an appropriate time.
Shooting a Man Eater
In such a situation the District magistrate will declare in the government gazette that a man eater is around and invite Shikaris (hunters) to kill the beast. This is easier said than done as pursuing the tiger is a risky proposition. For this purpose the DM will call for Shikaris who have already registered with him. The registration to be a shikari has some steps that must be followed.
Firstly you must have a licensed rifle of the appropriate bore. In India there is a ban on civilians owning SLR rifles, but for hunting a license can be given. This will require verification which is a stringent proposition and the applicant must be able to convince the authorities and the police that he is adept at handling heavy rifle like the Winchester. Licenses for such weapons are therefore restricted to military personnel or maharajahs who have owned guns for generations. I have been privileged to own a .315 SLR Winchester and am thus registered as a Shikari for hunting man eaters.
Planning a Tiger Shoot
After the notification, the Shikari is to make his own plans to track the beast. This is dangerous game as the Tiger senses that a hunter is approaching and will slink deeper into the forest. He will like to meet his adversary on his own home turf . He may also enter a cave and hide there. the tiger in that case has to entered and shot inside the cave. Once a notification is issued the Shikari will have to make his own arrangements as well indemnify the government in case a mishap takes place.
There is now a new line of thought emerging which is to tranquilize the tiger and take him to a zoo. So far no such case has borne fruit.