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Tailing the Tiger

Tiger Warrior

His love for wildlife made him quit a well-settled career & luxurious city life to settle in a remote place called Tala, close to Bandhavgarh National Park. A Chartered Accountant by qualification, Rajvardhan Sharma is the owner of the famous ‘Nature Heritage Resort’ located close to Tala Gate.’Raj Ji’ as he is popularly known would have never imagined even in his wildest dreams that one day in his life he would literally ‘tackle a tiger by its tail’.

Exactly a decade ago on this date he literally fought with a tigress to save two tourists & it was only his bravado because of which those two people escaped the jaws of death. The story goes like this:

On the 29th March 2003 morning, he was accompanying a group of French tourists for a regular game drive in the park. Following the tiger trail, they reached charger point via Akla kund where a sambhar deer was calling at regular intervals. By this lot of jeeps had also gathered at the same point in anticipation of a tiger sighting. After a few minutes, a tigress appeared, in the middle of the road approximately 20 feet away from jeeps. Most of the tourists got excited seeing a tiger so close, little did they know that memories of this sighting would haunt them forever.

The previous night this tigress later identified as Mohini, was hit by an unknown speeding vehicle. She lost her two canines and also suffered some other injuries. She was in tremendous pain & had wandered the whole night in the forest moaning, rubbing her head on grass and tree trunks, and chewing twigs in anguish. By the time she was sighted, she was suffering from ever-growing pain & was in huge distress.

She looked unusual, her face was distorted, her mouth was blood-stained and before anybody could sense danger she growled, lashed her tail and jumped in the nearest jeep. This jeep had four French tourists along with a driver, guide & a naturalist. Sensing danger the driver, two tourists & naturalist fled from the jeep. Within no time the tigress brought down the remaining two tourists, bit the thumb of one and embedded her canines in the chest of the other, only to miss the heart by a centimetre, fortunately. Her sharp claws left deep gashes in their bodies and they started bleeding profusely.

By this time all the other jeeps drove off to safety, isolating the ill-fated jeep. People inside the other jeeps froze with terror. The tigress was still inside the jeep, mounted on victims growling and twitching her tail. Suddenly everyone noticed one man getting down from his jeep and walking towards the tigress, while people shouted at him to come back but the sheer thought of saving the lives of those two people kept him going.

He approached the tiger from the front, lifted her paw and freed one tourist. Then he caught her with ears and twisted them to force her to release the deadly grip from the chest of another tourist. Tigress was unaffected, he punched and pushed the tigress but nothing happened. Perhaps her anger had overcome her reflexes. Suddenly he went to the rear of the jeep, caught the tigress by the tail and pulled it with all his energy. The tigress wheeled sharply, threw her paw in the air and snarled. Though she had left the victim by now but was still inside the jeep. Suddenly mahout Dayaram arrived at the scene & tried to put his elephant between Raj and Tigress. This was of little help as the elephant frightened by the blood smell and roars, ran away from the scene. By this time another guide, snapped a bamboo from a clump and threw it towards Raj. He started hitting the tigress with this bamboo & broke the bamboo in the process, this worked. The tigress jumped out of the jeep only to push him onto the ground. He got up once again and lifted his both hands in the air to appear big but the tigress pushed him again this time with more energy.

Even before he could get up, the tigress walked towards him and was on him the very next second. He immediately covered his neck with his right arm in order to protect it. Mohini bit his forearm and one of her canines pierced deep in his flesh. Realizing his end was inevitable, he prayed to Sidh Baba a local deity and protector of Bandhavgarh. He asked, "Would I be killed by an animal whom I love so much”. Then a miracle happened Mohini for no reason left him & stood next to him. He got up, and they both looked into each other's eyes before the tigress disappeared into the woods, never to be seen again.

All the injured were rushed to hospital & it was only his timely intervention that both the tourists were saved. It was only the courage of Raj Ji which stood between life and inevitable death for those ill-fated tourists. After spending two weeks in the hospital, he was back in the forest, only to be charged by another tiger the famous ‘charger’ & he stood his ground once again.

Tigerwalah salutes this Tiger Warrior.


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