Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright

Stop Blaming The Tiger.   Today, a man was mauled to death by a tiger in Delhi Zoo. Any loss of life is sad, and so it was in this case.

But the current blame game that is ongoing within and outside the media conveniently overlooks the most important being in this case – the tiger, for whom one must feel nothing but pity.

The Bengal Tiger (panthera tigris) is one of the world’s most endangered species. There are currently fewer than 2,500 of them worldwide. They have officially been classified as endangered by the IUCN, but are still hunted by poachers worldwide for their ‘exotic skin’, among other things.

Found primarily in the Bengal region, the tiger is the national animal of both countries in that region – India and Bangladesh. Shamefully, there have only been sporadic forces of activism to protect this beautiful animal, which continues to be killed by unaware villagers, townsmen, poachers. All from the same species of animal – homo sapiens. 

Homo sapiens, which are apparently the only species capable of having governments, laws, upholders of these laws, compassion and empathy, choose seemingly to exercise absolutely none of these even though heart-rending stories of animals being killed are aplenty. Snared in wire traps. Poisoned. Hunted in cold blood for their hides, for the use of their bones in traditional Oriental medicine. A quick read of the stories on tiger poaching is enough to break even the stoniest heart.

Although carnivorous, tigers are not known to be man-eaters, instead preferring to prey on herbivores within their ecosystems, such as several subspecies of deer and buffalo. It is very rare for a tiger to be a man-eater, a fact endorsed by renowned naturalist and famed protector of the Bengal tiger, Jim Corbett.

The more one reads about this incident, the less one is inclined to blame the tiger.

Taken out of its natural habitat, the tiger is in a small enclosure not even a tenth of the size of the forest it is used to. While the enclosure may seem ‘large’ to the human eye and human standards, it truly is not. Second, it is simply not the tiger’s natural habitat, and it is unlikely the tiger will feel particularly comfortable or at home there. Zoos are a concept that I completely abhor; putting live animals that cannot resist and do not know any better on display for human pleasure is sadistic, cruel and entirely unnecessary.

In this still-slightly-unfamiliar environment, the tiger is put on display, for people to watch, ogle at, laugh, scream, yell and seemingly attract attention. Reduced to a circus show (which, in my opinion, should also be entirely outlawed. At the very least the use of animals in circus acts should be completely banned) with spectators watching it go about its life. A Truman Show for the poor animal.

Indian public etiquette is nonexistent, to put it mildly, be it at a swimming pool, a railway station, an airport, a government office, a restaurant, anywhere. [An article on this is currently in the works.]

The same goes for zoos. Honestly, as abhorrent as public etiquette is, I would much rather humans inconvenienced each other than hurt an animal, something that makes my blood boil. People throw stones, pebbles, food, popcorn, the works at poor, confused animals in spite of signs in multiple languages telling them expressly NOT TO DO SO. But who cares about instructions?

And so cue our strapping young man, king of the creatures, selfie-clicking enthusiast, who attempts to climb the barricade to the tiger’s limited area. Hoping to get its attention, he walks towards a tiger that is at a fair distance, 500-600 metres away, shouting to attract its attention.

The tiger comes towards our selfie young man, our social media maven, who by now has realised entering the tiger’s area was not a smart idea. Cue Darwin award, please.

Ill-informed ‘spectators’ begin to throw stones at an already scared tiger who perceives this man as a threat to his territory. Territorialism is animal instinct (unfortunately, humans do it too, for reasons that are not instinctual, sadly), and I assure you a pet dog would do exactly the same were its territory threatened. Many pet dogs are quite capable of mauling a person to death as well.

Now scared and confused, the tiger attacks the man in its enclosure, mauling it to death. To the tiger’s mind, it has eliminated the threat to its territory – it did not eat, prey on, or generally ‘use’ the human that entered its enclosure for anything; it merely eliminated the threat it felt, a natural animal instinct. I also assure you if you were to barge into my home and throw stones at me, or threaten me or my family in any way, I would attack you too.

In the blame game, eyewitness dramatisations have tried to blame tiger and zoo. While the tiger could have been better cared for, the fact remains it was IN A ZOO. OUT of its natural habitat. Not protected, as it would be with its pack, but alone, in a physically limited area, threatened by a human looking to encroach upon what it knows as its own ‘home’.

In his quest to click a picture, this man went TO the tiger, attempting to attract its attention – surprisingly, neither common sense nor the human instinct for self-preservation seems to have worked for him.

At that point, it is unfair to blame either zoo authorities or animal for someone intentionally needling an animal, needlessly provoking it, turning it into a spectacle for human entertainment in a tiny space.

While sorry for the loss of life, I find that I feel sympathy for the poor tiger, rather than the man who lost his life. I wish painful deaths to those who poach. If you willingly hunt an animal in its own natural habitat, ousting it from its home, killing it in cold blood and with the utmost cruelty for money and perverse pleasure, an animal that neither knows nor understands humanity, you are a disgusting blot on the human race, which, by the way it has been acting recently, has not been all that great to itself.

These creatures may be large, they may be equipped to protect themselves. But against the awful weaponry and ammunition the human race has designed and continues to use with reckless abandon, these animals are well and truly defenceless (when the men throw down their spears).

A strong advocate of national parks and sanctuaries, I believe entirely that animals should be protected in their natural habitats. 

For this, we also need to look at our green laws. Large sections of forest have been continuously razed, displacing entire biomes and ecosystems, and every last bit of flora and fauna. Forest and wildlife protection are an absolute need of the hour, and I hope the new government makes note of these facts. An open request to the new administration: please look into the existing wildlife protection laws. Please help enact new laws to protect our natural wealth.

In the quest for financial and infrastructural development and national monetary wealth, let us not forget the abundant natural wealth that we need to preserve, to foster, to nurture, to protect from man, from ourselves. In a race to build factories, economies, in the rush to lead the pack of nations hunting to be economic superpowers, let us remember to protect the animals that cannot protect themselves anymore.

Large wildlife belongs in its natural habitat – in which case stringent measures need be taken to actually protect these beautiful creatures from the species from which they suffer the most significant harm.

Us.

Homo Sapiens may not be such a wise man after all.

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About abohemiansrhapsody

Writer, reader, musician, crossword puzzle addict, social scientist, funnywoman, traveller and Beatlemaniac extraordinaire, I enjoy the first of those things the most. Editor and writer at Sportskeeda.com, loving what I do and doing what I love. Formula One, tennis and running editor, Ayrton Senna fan. I write about society, culture, feminism, politics, economics, film, advertising, of things that affect the world at large. I love to sing, and play the piano and a bit of guitar. I also love taking photos. Of anything and everything. My food, a dog on the street, a panhandler, a piece of trash. If I likes, I strikes. Whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes. When I'm not writing news articles, blogs and essays, I like working on a bit of fiction. You can find my short stories and other general musings at: www.anuthebeatlegirl.blogspot.com or http://anuthebeatlegirl.wordpress.com My photography and poetry at: http://www.schizoiddeviant.deviantart.com And my music at: http://www.youtube.com/anu2601

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