By Nitika Mangla
Santa: What will you do if you encounter a tiger someday?
Banta: What do I have to do? Tiger will do whatever has to be done.
It’s a very old joke. I am sure just like me, most of you must have heard it many a times. But I had to kind of lived it once, back in 2015.
I was scheduled to stay in FRH, Bijrani Zone, Jim Corbett with my family on 09.05.2015. We were on “Tiraha” road near the watch tower when we had to stop our jeep as a Tigress was coming from the other side. The Tigress came a little nearer to our jeep and our driver put the back gear as it is also a safari protocol that the animal have the first ‘right to way’. However, driver in the jeep behind us obstructed our way as his visitors (who were on day safari) were busy taking the pictures of Tigress. Meanwhile the Tigress came adjacent to our jeep and gave expressions of anger warning us to clear the way or face consequences. We were helpless as the driver behind refused to give us the way and risked our life for a mere tip of INR 200-300. from his visitors. The situation became so scary that I had to hide my daughter between the two seats of the jeep and the driver, myself and my husband bend our heads and buried ourselves deep inside towards the surface of the jeep as a gesture to protect ourselves from Tigress wrath. However the luck favoured us and the Tigress turned its way towards the bushes. We were completely shocked by this pitiful behaviour of the safari driver and even complained to their Union leader about the incident but all in vain.
I have been visiting Corbett for quite long and for the first time I felt myself unsafe. The callous attitude of safari drivers and the visitors who take Corbett as a picnic spot is highly condemnable. My sincere piece of advice to all who visit Corbett only for fun/ enjoyment and not respecting our National animal, it will take only one fatal accident to close the Corbett park forever to visitors. It might not make much difference to such people but it will definitely adversely affect us- the Nature and Tiger lovers. Please respect and save the Tiger.