Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Dormitory pakka tiger machcha !!!"

Hm... this is one dialogue I hear very frequently these days. It comes in various forms and stories. "You know WHAT!!! I roamed around Nagarhole for three days in search of a tiger... NOT A SINGLE DAMN TIGER did I find! The fourth day I was disappointed enought to pack my stuff. JUST that evening, I saw a tigress roaming about so close to the dormitory itself!!! And yeah, I got my DREAM shots!" is one friend's way of putting it.
"My friends told me I would get to see a tiger in Nagarhole. I went there and stayed for one whole week. I never saw any. Just the next week of my return, the same friend spotted a tiger right next to the dormitory. He got amazing pictures too. Oh I'm so unlucky!" Is another friend's story. "Three hours in the core area, and one hour right next to the gate is equivalent. You get the same stuff... in fact, you have more chances near the gate than in the core area. Don't waste your time in the safari." Is a piece of advice one of my friends gave me.

So what caused the tigers to frequent human habitat? Human habitat in the sense - 'the gate', near the dormitory, close to the well... why are tigers spotted more often in such places than in natural habitats? I thought about this for a long time...

My observation is that, a lot of spotted deer wander around the dormitories of Bandipur-Nagarhole. In fact, you can find SO MANY spotted deer around the dormitory early in the morning that even the count in the safari can't beat it. These spotted deer are so bold, they just don't go away. What makes them come to this part of the forest?

What I think is - humans. Yes, the presence of humans gives confidence to the deer. Confidence enough to stay there, eat there, sleep there and even have babies there...
Where there are humans, there are less predators (such as tigers) and where there are less predators, there is more chance of survival for these deer. "Predators" are mainly the leopards and tigers. These are quite agile creatures, which do not tend to approach human habitation. The deer are intelligent enough to sense this fact, and thereby they prefer living close to humans.

But what if all deer start migrating towards human habitation? There will be little left for the tigers and leopards to hunt in the forests. Even the big felines are sensible enough to understand that there is a good chance of a deer catch near human habitation, and therefore they are seen near 'dormitories, wells and gates'.

Isn't this a valid point? Please correct me if I'm wrong, as this is only a hypothesis... not the reality that I can be 100% sure of... :)


  1. Nice observation, Keep up the good work.

  2. Good Point here Birdy.. Spotted Deer come close to Humans for shelter, Yes. You may want to record a crucial observation that you get to see these deers near the Range Office only during Dawn and Dusk, remaining hours, they are off to the Jungles. This justifies the "Shelter" theory.
    Sighting a Big Cat is a matter of sheer luck though.
    Its not really true that tiger sightings happen more near the Gates or Range Offices.. Not more than a couple of Predators can roam around the area. As you know, Territory matters !
    If we are talking about Bandipur Reserve, we've seen that females are more tolerant to Territory Overlapping. This is also one of the reasons why predators are seen close to Range Office / Gates more often.

  3. @Avinash: Yes, you are right... :) Thanks for that :)

  4. absolutely agree with you.. in fact Ive seen 5 tigers(not joking!1) just 1.5 km from b'pura reception.. but in think the territory factor plays a role in deer societies as well. If you look at it, deer are present deep inside too, albeit in small numbers.. btw, amazing blog :)

  5. @Akshay: Yes, males are highly territorial... most of my friends who've seen tigers so close to human habitats have all seen females. And yes, deer are present inside too... not that there is a shortage of supply inside the jungle !