Photo via yaaaay via Flickr CC
What do we expect when we take away and animal's habitat and they have neither a large enough home nor enough food? Two incidents of a clash between humans and big cats occured this week as a leopard and a tiger both left their "sanctuaries" in search of food and had some seriously unfortunate interactions with people. The leopard strayed from a sanctuary in the eastern Indian state of Orissa and ended up attacking villiagers, and a tiger wandered out of the Sunderbans tiger reserve and mauled a woman as she was feeding her chickens. Earth Times reports, "The leopard had strayed out of the Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary in search of food. When the villagers raised an alarm and started throwing stones at it, it attacked some villagers, according to a forest official. There was panic for hours as the villagers tried to scare away the leopard, till forest department officials reached the spot and caught the animal."
Just earlier in the week, the tigress from the Sunderbans tiger reserve was found inside a village woman's hut after it had mauled her. She was rushed to the hospital, and the tigress will be released in the very core of the tiger reserve. Thankfully, it won't be put down which is often what happens when an animal mauls a human.
"Living in the Sunderbans means that one must be prepared for [a time] when the tiger may come, but in the last few years the frequency of such visits and the extent to which they stray into the villages has increased," said Shankar Munda, who has seen tigers when he goes fishing in brooks in the forest area."
It's no wonder, when the habitat and food sources of animals like these large cats are pushed to breaking points. Tigers especially are in need of bigger habitats, but in countries like India and China with rapidly growing populations and ever more urbanization, it seems unlikely that they'll get the space they need to thrive. Even sanctuaries touted as success stories are experiencing difficulty, such as the Corbett tiger reserve in north India - with a tiger population of 164 out of India's 1,411 tigers - which has seen a marked rise in the numbers of run-ins between tigers and villagers. Too many tigers, not enough room.
With big cats losing space, more conflict is likely to occur, and this is bad news for the cats. But perhaps this isn't bad press, since it brings a spotlight on the fact that more room needs to be set aside and larger buffer zones created so that these run ins are less frequent.
More on Tigers and Leopards
Tiger Conference Ends with Mixed Results
The Year of the Tiger - Beautiful Animals on the Brink (Slideshow)
OMG Cute! & OMG Vulnerable: Clouded Leopard Cubs Born in National Zoo (Video)
Leopard Feared Extinct in Bangladesh Captured by Villagers