Tuesday, December 21, 2004
This is why the local authorities have given honey-gatherers human facemasks to put on the back of their heads.
Why? This is why:
Terrible stories are told on Gosaba, an island of widows close to the Sunderbans national park of India’s West Bengal state, of the tigers who drag fishermen and honey-gatherers into entangled mangrove swamps.
Tigers are killing off between 20 and 30 people a year around the Sunderbans park. It is quite terrifying.
On Gosaba tigers are called “great uncle”. Locals speak of the animal’s psychology, its sly intelligence.
“Generally, a tiger hides, watches its prey and jumps on it,” says Bhutnath Mondal, a honey-gatherer who once had a narrow escape and whose father has been badly mauled.
“If it fails, he goes off only to come back.”
However, “if the tiger sees you looking him straight in the eye he does not pounce because he thinks the man is going to attack,” says M.A. Wohab, of the Sunderbans development directorate.
Hence the masks that project a face looking backward.
Read the whole thing. Fear the tigers.