Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hunting Tigers

The most efficient hunting species became the most hunted. Ironically the animal lost since he stood no match for hunting prowess of man a superior species?? Since early days tiger hunting was a regular activity. The prehistoric man could have killed the tiger due to rivalry or for food. 

As human civilization progressed hunting became more advanced with metal weapons, snares, traps, spears, bow and arrows and what not. Gradually guns came into picture, this was catastrophic for forests all over the World. With this weaponry it was easy to kill tigers as well as other species. Guns wrecked havoc on wildlife and it lost lot of ground. 

Tiger hunting in later period was not just guns as it is an elusive animal. The Shikaris or hunters deployed varied methods in order to bring down this magnificent beast. The Maharajahs and British Aristocrats hunted tigers on elephant back. They also resorted to Haka where in a large number of drummers and noise makers exposed the big cat. The commotion brought out the cat from its hiding and was easily killed by waiting hunters. Another method deployed was baiting. A goat or a buffalo calf was tied to a tree in area frequented by big cats. A machaan or hideout on tree top was than built for the hunters so that they could wait for the tiger to arrive. The Baiga tribe of Madhya Pradesh would hang a tiger's kill midway on a horizontal pole. Difficult to grasp in order to reach the kill the animal would often fall on sharpened bamboo spikes. He would be injured seriously or die instantly.

For as little as fifty rupees one could get a license to shoot a tiger in a forest block in India. All these method succeeded in decimating tiger and leopard population in alarming proportion.  

Hunting is different from poaching. Since the legislation in 1971 hunting any wild life form is prohibited in India. It is banned as a sport though illegal hunting does go on here and there. The global wildlife trade increased to dangerous levels by demand for tiger bones in Chinese medicine and exotic pet lovers who keep wild animals, butterflies and birds in their homes. Thousands perhaps millions of birds and butterflies are being caged in order to fulfill a sickening desire for a wild pet or stuffed specimens at home.

Poaching is more deadly it is a gruesome face of merciless hunters and traders who would do anything for money. They resort to utmost cruel methods of killing big cats. Traps, snares, poison, guns, spears all are painful killers. Most of the poachers like Bel Pardhis of Madhya Pradesh are  hunter gatherers and hence expert in the job.    

Though it is illegal to kill tigers in India many instances have occurred right under the administration's nose. Panna and Sariska are an example. Poaching could be occurring still in reserves where patrolling and surveillance is weak. Man animal conflict is another big problem specially when cattle lifting happens. The animal faces ire of the locals and the prey is poisoned. The death of tigers and leopards are very painful and torturous in such circumstances.

We can contribute by discouraging medicine or cosmetics made of animal parts. We should shun all those who keep exotic animals as pets without conservation cause.

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