Blood Stained Hands

“There it is”, Shashi Malik points out. Shashi is forester with huge experience of wildlife management. He is the first to sight it. The jeep stops with a screech. A huge male tiger is cooling itself in water saucer deep inside the jungle near Raiya Kassa crossing. The management of the Pench Tiger Reserve, where we are in, has created drinking water facilities for wild animals by way circular, cemented, 10-15 m diameter saucers for animals to drink water from in case it is not naturally available in the region. These saucers are filled by tankers as and when required. There are smaller saucers in areas where tanker may not reach. These are filled manually with hand pumps on one end.

The light is good. The tiger is in no rush. We take score of photos. Generally, it’s difficult to get time to shoot a tiger properly. The light may be bad. It may be hidden in bushes. The distance may be too much. It may be walking ahead and you are watching its bum…

We now wait for some different action or movement by the tiger. While we watch, Shashi notices red strains on the fore limbs of the tiger. These limbs are stretched out of the saucer while most of its rear body is in water. We all look closely, some with binoculars.  It is suspected that the limbs maybe injured. Tiger appears to be making limbs moment cautiously, more so, the left foot, added to the doubt.

The deputy director, K K Gurwani is with us. He gets worried. He knows that a new big male has recently taken to using this area. It has already pushed out another big male, famous as ‘BMW’, from the region.

There is always a possibility of territorial fight between the new one out to grab prime territory from the old established male, who is growing old.

Nevertheless, Gurwani maintains cool. He opines, “Maybe these are minor injuries. Such injuries, tiger is easily able to heal itself by licking. We will keep a watch.”

The discussion continues. Foresters decide that ‘A conclusion can be drawn when the tiger walks. If it limps badly, it will be matter of concern.’

We have been watching the tiger for half an hour but it is in no mood to rise and walk. In the meanwhile, local Deputy Ranger, Gautam Soni, famous man with about three decades of service for the Reserve has arrives. He can notice red strains with naked eyes. Deputy Director directs him to keep a watch and monitor the tiger.

We go around in the nearby area to see why spotted deer are making continuous alarm calls. There has been another tiger, or may be tigress, in the area. But we miss it.

Soon a message is received from Soni about the movement of the tiger. We dash to the spot. When reach, the tiger has left the saucer and we get a mere glimpse of it disappearing deep inside the forest. Soni assures us that all is well. There has been no limp in the walk of the tiger. The smart man has even grabbed video shot. We all see this and are reassured that there is nothing to worry.

A reanalysis of the mystery is done. It is felt that tiger must have made a kill and while handling the animal during feeding has soiled its fore limbs with blood. It is also discussed about the possible that tiger may have got brushes or minor injuries while hunting and tackling a strong animal. In any case, it is not Shakespearean blood stained hands in literal sense.


One comment

  1. Sunayan Sharma · June 21, 2018

    Good observation dear Pushp Bhai. This reminds me of the behaviour shown by Rani(the name given by you during Sariska visit), at the time of her release from the enclosure in to wilderness at Sariska, in 2009. She seemed seriously injured and had not moved from the water hole in last 8-9 hours. Also she was licking at her paws. In fact during previous day she had jumped at the wire mesh of the enclosure and apparently hurt her self. It was a difficult decision to release her from the captivity but the risk was that the agitated hungry animal could die out of hunger inside the enclosure. The two WII experts,namely Dr. Sankar and Dr. Nigam,the Vat had diverse opinions on its release. Even Mr Mehrotra,the then CWlW Raj, when contacted on phone left the decision on my wits. Ultimately I decided in favour ofthe animal and released it in the night it self. the released animal to our biggest surprise vanished out ofthe enclosure like a bullet. On thorough checking of the enclosure we found not a stain of blood any where. This proved she was OK. It was a life time experience for us. I have narrated this incidence in my book also. I am happy that you could also experience it first hand.
    I feel like sharing that cemented water holes should be discouraged in our reserves as these are neither eco friendly nor animal friendly. If water percolation is a problem then black cotton soil may be used. Any way Pench is a beautiful reserve. I have visited it once when Alok Kumar was the Director. may be some time in future we two visit it again.


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