If there is an animal that enjoys exemplary protection in India, it is the tiger, thanks to the Project Tiger program, considered the most ambitious and successful of all the world plans that try to save this species. Almost 60% of the Asian population of tigers are in India. They also enjoy popular fervor, so that every accidental death receives wide media coverage. Therefore, the story about cannibalism by Rakesh Shukla, a biologist working in the Kanha Tiger Reserve, in the Indian weekly Frontline is shocking.
This reserve, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, has become a magnificent observatory of the animal’s behavior, which has allowed it to directly attend an act of cannibalism that has starred a tiger eating its peers. It is something that happens every time an individual is forced to protect their territory. The tiger kills and devours the cubs, either to control their game reserve or to spread their own genes by eliminating the cubs of another male.
According to Shukla, the cannibal behavior of tigers is more common than is believed, which leads him to continue investigating the complexity of the social organization of this animal community. “The internal struggles between adults are often fierce and bloody, but it does not mean that there is a shortage of prey for them in the reserve, nor does it present a threat to the tiger population,” the biologist says in his article.
Such is the admiration towards this animal in the country, that people have a hard time understanding that they can die naturally due to illnesses, infections or even serious injuries suffered in a fight. “Park employees often find it difficult to explain the naturalness of such deaths, especially due to their cannibalistic behavior,” he concludes.