With more tigers, attacks are also upThere are several human settlements in the buffer zones of the Banke and Bardiya national parks where tigers have easy access to domestic animals and people. Two people suffered attacks on February 19 and 20.
Wakil Gaddi, a resident of Raptisonari Rural Municipality-7 in Banke district, survived an attack by a tiger a few days ago. The critically injured Gaddi, who is in his early thirties, is recuperating at Bheri Hospital, Nepalgunj.
“The tiger pounced and caught me by my neck. It pierced my nape with its teeth. I did not struggle instead lied prostrate pretending to be dead,” said the traumatised Gaddi. “I could feel the tiger sucking my blood. Soon I could hear some people shouting and trying to chase the tiger away. The big cat left me and went into the forest. And I ran to save my life.”
The big cat attacked Gaddi on February 20 when he had gone to the local forest to collect Babiyo (Eulaliopsis binata) to make ropes. The deep wounds in his neck are yet to heal and he needs support to get up from the bed. “I did not think I would survive when the tiger attacked me. I feel very lucky,” he said.
A day before the attack on Gaddi, Dhan Bahadur Chalaune was also attacked by a tiger in a similar fashion at Phattepur in Raptisonari-7. Chalaune did not survive the attack.
The tiger emerging from the Banke National Park had mauled the eldest among 23 people who had gone to collect fodder and firewood to the community forest. Chalaune was 60.
The incidents of tigers entering the community forests near human settlements are on the rise lately. As many as five people were killed in separate attacks by tigers in Banke district in the past seven months. Several injuries have been reported along with loss of domesticated animals.
The situation is exactly the same in the neighbouring Bardiya district as well. Five people were killed by tigers in the current fiscal year. Twelve people lost their lives in the last fiscal year.
According to conservationists, almost all the incidents of tiger attacks happened either on busy roads that pass through the national park forests or near the human settlements. They suspect that the tigers are entering the settlements due to changes in their genetic behaviour.
“The tigers find domestic animals brought to forest areas to graze to be easy prey. And humans who go into forests for fodder and firewood are also easy to kill. Tigers may have been entering the area near the settlements for easy prey,” said Shyam Kumar Shah, the chief conservation officer at the Banke National Park.
There are several human settlements in the buffer zone area of the Banke and Bardiya national parks. The tigers have easy access to domestic animals and people in the areas. The tigers generally prefer to live in isolated forests far from human crowds and hunt prey by chasing them. “But of late, tigers have been entering human settlements to prey on the grazing animals. The tigers are getting used to preying on domestic animals since they are easy targets,” said Shah, who closely observes tiger behaviour in the national park areas.
The other reason for an increase in tiger attacks on people and domestic animals in recent years could be infighting between male tigers, according to conservationists.
The male tigers often fight territorial battles and the defeated ones roam around in search of a new habitat. While the tiger population is showing an uptick, their habitat is shrinking. The number of tigers in the abutting Banke and Bardiya national parks is estimated to be 108.
“The habitats have been shrinking with the increasing population of tigers. Many male tigers do not stay in the same area. Enraged at the territorial battle, the tigers leave their old habitat and move around in search of new places,” said Bishnu Prasad Shrestha, the chief conservation officer at the Bardiya National Park.
According to conservationists, tigers attack people when the latter disturb them during mating. Tigresses sometimes enter community forests near human settlements to protect their cubs from the attack by the males. Hunger could lead to these tigresses preying on human beings and domestic animals. The old, diseased and injured tigers also often enter the settlements and attack human beings and prey on domesticated animals.
Tigers are generally fond of preying on various deer species like spotted deer, barking deer and sambar deer. They move towards the forests near human settlements to prey on the domesticated animals if they do not find deer in their habitats.
Conservationists say tigers roam around 40 to 50 square kilometres in their habitat with the availability of enough prey animals. If there is a shortage of prey animals, they move around 100 square kilometres. “Lack of enough prey animals in the forests can be another cause behind the tigers entering human settlements in search of food,” said Shrestha.