For Daulat Singh, who retired as Assistant Conservator of Forests last year, a fascination for forests and the big cats endures. Singh was attacked by a tiger and lost his right eye in 2010. However, after a painful recovery, he was soon back in the forest, doing what he enjoys most, looking after the wild.
Singh has also penned a book, My Encounter with the Big Cat and other adventures in Ranthambhore, chronicling his experiences. He was in the city recently for a promotional event and spoke about his encounter with the tiger and the need to prevent people-animal conflict.
Remembering the attack, Singh says, “In the morning, I received a call from the Deputy Director about a male tiger, T-7 in Bhuri Pahari, a village on the outskirts of the reserve. The tiger had killed a buffalo and was hiding in the bushes. With my tranquillizing gun, I quickly reached the spot and discovered a huge crowd, making a lot of noise and throwing stones at the tiger making it more irritable. Visibility was not great and I was not able to aim at the tiger clearly. I fired the dart and instead of the muscle, it hit the bone and did not work. When we entered the bushes, the tiger pounced on me, bite my arm and went for my face. I thought I was going to die and blacked out. When I woke up, I found myself in an empty field. My colleagues had managed to send the tiger back to the forest.”
I was rushed to the nearest medical facility and then airlifted to Jaipur. All I remember is calling out my blood group since I was sure that I had lost a lot of blood. It took me a few months to recover, and I was given a desk job in my hometown, Kota. However, I was not very happy and wanted to head back to the jungles, against the wishes of my family. I was adamant and was back in Ranthambore soon.”
Singh does not blame the tiger for the attack. “In most cases, tranquillising is a relatively easy task as the big cats do not have the tendency to attack humans. It is important that the general public aids the forest department and do not panic. It is only a cornered animal that will attack people. I did encounter T7 on a later assignment in Sariska, but it did not attack me. I am thrilled that both the tiger and me survived the incident. We used to patrol the forests on foot or on a bike and rarely encountered a big beast attacking people.”
He points out, “Cases of animal-human conflict are on the rise since the increasing human population is putting pressure on the ecology of the forests. However, this situation can be improved by making people living in the forests aware. There is more trust between the forest dwellers and the officials lately.”