NCERT English — Report / Feature writing – A sample
The Royal Bengal Tigers of Sundarbans versus the humans
India’s tiger population is on the rise after a prolonged period of decline. In the Sundarbans, the world’s largest tidal mangrove forest and an environment hotspot, the number of the Royal Bengal tigers has gone past 100. The news has gladdened the hearts of wild life lovers in India and abroad.
Sadly, for the poor human beings in the Sundarbans, who share the habitat with the tigers, the cup of woes is full. The proximity with the big cats has increased the chances of deadly encounters with the animals manifold.
Recently, a poor man named Srinivas Sarkar (40) had gone out to catch crabs from the streams when a tiger pounced upon him from behind and dragged him into the jungle. Sarkar’s body could not be recovered from the jungle. His widowed wife, Sonaka Sarkar (31), is in a state of shock. A life of insecurity and utter impoverishment awaits this young woman.
The people living in the area have to live in constant awe of the tiger. To eke out a living, the residents of the area have to spend long hours in the open. Fishing, collecting honey, farming, cutting firewood etc. bring the people out to the open. And this makes them vulnerable to tiger attacks.
There is another paradox here. Being an endangered species, the Royal Bengal Tiger enjoys comprehensive protection against attack by human beings. The tigers can not be killed, harmed and even be fought off by a victim, who falls prey to the animal. Whoever goes after a tiger even for reasons of self-defence finds himself in the wrong side of law. The police harassment after an encounter with a tiger becomes insufferable at times. In a way, the law wants the humans to non-violently submit to the tiger’s claws!
In an encounter that happened 19 years ago, Binay Mandal (66) fought off a tiger and survived, although severely scarred in the process. But, he had to keep his heroics to himself, lest the police prosecute him for attacking the legally-protected Royal Bengal Tiger! Such is the plight of the human beings who live in the Sundarbans.
The inhabitants of the archipelago are uneducated, unskilled and so, incapable of making a living elsewhere. They are condemned to live in this area of West Bengal and Bangladaesh despite the constant possibility of being devoured by the Tiger. Being a commoner, he can not protest if a ‘Royal’ picks him up for dinner!