Living with the Wild

When Magu left home for work on March 13, 2016, little did he know that a tiger had been stalking him. The following day, a search party was horrified to find only his head and legs ; the rest of his body had been eaten. For the next seven days, work at the Woodbriar Tea estate would come to a stand still. The workers were too afraid to step out of their houses. With mounting pressure, the authorities retaliated. A special task force from the Forest Department shot dead the tiger that had killed Magu.

This was the third man-eating tiger to be killed by the department in the last two years in Nilgiris – one of the largest forest areas in South India and home to around 6000 elephants and other critically endangered flora and fauna. The alarming rise in human deaths due to incidents of man-animal conflict has left the state government worried.Shrinking green cover, unabated encroachment of forest fringe areas and truant monsoons have led to growing human-animal clashes in Tamil Nadu. Forest Department sources said that during the past year, at least 47 people in the state died and, now, this figure has already crossed 50. Wild elephants accounted for the maximum number of human casualties followed by leopards and then tigers. Recently, local people in forest areas had put pressure on officials to kill tigers and leopards that stray into their settlements. The state government has increased the compensation for death or permanent disability caused due to an animal attack from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. It has paid more than Rs 3 crore in compensation over the last two years. But who is compensating for all the wildlife that is lost? And what will happen if this kind of war rages on?

Direction| Story| Cinematography: Jyothy Karat
Program Editor: Ryan Chua
Editing: Sony Sasankan
Sound Recordist: Praveen C M
Fixer: Unni Krishnan

Special thanks to K. Jayakumar, Nilgiris, India.