Wildlife

Live and let live

Print edition : July 11, 2014

Tigers and leopards kill equal numbers of livestock in the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Photo: Jennie Miller

A livestock owner crouches by his goat, killed by a leopard while grazing in the lantana shrubs behind his home. Photo: Jennie Miller

A livestock owner points to a tiger pug mark located near his dead cow. Evidence like this, proof of an attack by a wild carnivore, is required in order for owners to receive financial compensation from the Forest Department. Photo: Ashish Bais

Tiger scratches on a cow’s leg. Because this fatally injured cow returned home, the owner cannot legally receive compensation. Photo: Jennie Miller

The author surveys the remains of a cow killed and eaten by a tiger near the Kanha tourist gate. Photo: Jennie Miller

Although they rarely attack villagers in Kanha, leopards often enter the enclosures adjacent to people’s homes at night to kill livestock. A leopard jumped through the small crevice below the roof of this bamboo enclosure and killed a goat. Photo: Jennie Miller

A female leopard prowls around a fresh goat kill. Mothers with cubs are considered more likely to attack livestock in order to fulfil the high nutrient needs of their young. Photo: Jennie Miller

Financial incentives such as livestock compensation are critical for enabling coexistence between people, livestock and wildlife. This image shows a tiger pug mark framed within cattle dung, a visual symbol that cohabitation is possible. Photo: Jennie Miller

The tiger's large, muscular body enables it to kill cattle and buffaloes, whereas the smaller leopard more commonly attacks goats, pigs and young cattle. Photo: Jennie Miller

Kanha beat guards trace a tiger’s pug marks near a freshly killed bull as evidence for a livestock compensation report. Photo: Jennie Miller

To discourage villagers from poisoning carcasses and retaliating against large cats, the Forest Department burns livestock kills immediately after collecting evidence for compensation. Photo: Jennie Miller

Cows in Kanha are left to graze without a herder for most of the year when crops are not in the field. Photo: Jennie Miller

Sambar grazing in the tiger reserve. Photo: Jennie Miller

A jackal pauses while hunting. Photo: Jennie Miller

A python exposes itself for a rare sighting. Photo: Jennie Miller

A banyan tree at the entrance of the tiger reserve. Photo: Jennie Miller

Peacock dance on a road in the tiger reserve. Photo: Jennie Miller

Attacks by tigers and leopards on livestock cause devastating losses to owners at the Kanha Tiger Reserve, yet villagers rarely retaliate. Stewardship by local people may be the secret to saving big cats in the wild. Text & photographs
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