Via – Govind Naik
What does it take to be T-24…???
T-24/ Ustaad had been made notorious by human being, due to his involvement in accidents/incidents where human lives were lost. We all know it very well, if those cases were analyzed in detail, we come down to one and pinpoint reason that the physical distance between an animal like wild tiger and human being on foot was not respected. Moreover it should be noted that the tiger was surprised by presence of human being so close to him. He had not killed and consumed the human flesh. We all know it very well and also seen it so many times, that tigers do not like human being. Especially on foot. Over the years of tourism and tiger-human co-existence, many tigers have become tolerant for the safari vehicles and people onboard. Generally, whenever the tigers see the human being on foot, the first reaction of the tiger is to get away from the scene. I have myself seen this with Sultan (T-72), Romeo (T-6), Krishna (T-19), T-73 and T74. They had seen guards on foot on patrol and changed the path they were following and went the other way. I also have a video of sultan doing so. Tiger here do not have a habit of attacking human being for no reason. Moreover, in the latest case of Ustaad where the tragic death of respected Rampal jee was the final result, Ustaad (T-24) was surprised by his presence at a considerably close distance to him. If it was some other tiger in place of ustaad, we cant expect much different result. This is attack was in defense of himself. It was never intentional from T-24.
The tragic fact about T-24 is that his prime and buffer territory has medium to high human social activity with Fort and the Ganesh temple being in his territory. There are hundreds and hundreds of people walking on foot every day to the fort and temple, who have seen Ustaad/T-24 doing a territorial walk and ignoring the presence of human being. This number goes to thousands especially on Wednesday. He just ignores and walks his way. He has never attacked even a single person here. I myself have spent more than 90 minutes at a distance of less than 10 feet with Ustaad(T-24). On one occassion he was accompanied with his semi Adult cub Sultan(T-72) just less than 24 months old, at same distance from us. But in our case, it was not us who went close to him. We had stopped at about more than 30-40 feet away from him when we saw him coming. It was Ustaad (T24) who came close to us with ease and being in his comfort he sat down at that distance. He never showed any type of charging or aggressive behavior. This is not the only incident where I have been at close distance to him. I am sure he is very tolerant to human being and he passes this knowledge to his next generations.
If at all, we decide to keep T-24/ustaad in captivity after the latest incident, we will risk lives of Noor(T-39) his sole mate and two of their latest litter. These male cubs are not yet even complete semi Adult. Absence of T-24 will keep this area vacant and invite other males to be dominant in the same area. This will only be a competition for the resident tigers i.e. Noor and her present cubs. It will be highly difficult for these cubs to make it to adulthood. They will be at highest risk here. If a tiger like Ustaad is kept under captivity he won’t even survive there. Being very aggressive and angry he will obviously injure himself in the cage making it further difficult to handle an individual like him. He wont survive being in cage.
Ustaad is Just a tiger, a dominant male tiger. He is the one who should be respected, taken care. He has given birth to beautiful male tiger like Sultan, raised him to full adulthood. His second litter who are still young, also look healthy and as beautiful as Noor(T-39) and Ustaad(T-24). They are on right track of their progress. Noor (T39) has started leaving the cubs alone for longer times when out for a kill. The cubs are doing wonderful for their survival. We are seeing successful bringing up of two more healthy tigers in our very own jungle. Ustaad and Noor together, are the crucial tigers for the increase in tiger numbers in our forests. They are still in their complete prime and we expect some more tigers from them. The Forest of Ranthambore in india’s pride. It has a global recognition. Removing a dominant male tiger that too yet in his prime… out of the jungle and putting him in captivity is definitely not a solution in this case.
The real solution is very very well known. A Human being needs to keep distance with a tiger. A distance at which a tiger is comfortable and not human being. The sad part is there is no answer to the question…. What comes first..?? life of a human being or a life of a tiger..??? The world today being dominated by human being, puts human life on priority which is absolutely not wrong but in this case there are definitely better solutions than putting a tiger like Ustaad/T-24 in captivity…..
We all request our forest authorities to consider our points before taking any drastic decisions in this case.
We all put our hands together and request you….. let Ustaad be Ustaad…