Meeting the Man Who Shot a Tigress

He shot a tigress between its eyes with a Winchester .458 Mag rifle.  After tracking the animal – that killed five people and injured thirty five others – for forty days, Nawab Shafath Ali Khan from Hyderabad finally accomplished the task requested of him by the forest officials of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Just as Masood and I returned from our wildlife safari, we saw Nawab Shafath Ali Khan smile and nod to us as he pulled the horse’s reins.  Closely behind him, his son rode another horse.  His wife followed them in a jeep.  While the men continued riding into the resort towards their house, Mrs. Shafath Ali Khan walked with us.  We introduced ourselves.  She is so warm and sweet that, for a moment, I thought I’d known her for ages!  Masood was eager to meet the Nawab, specially since they both hail from Hyderabad.   And I was excited mainly because it was my first time to ever meet a real nawab!

It was shortly after breakfast that we finally got to personally meet Nawab Shafath Ali Khan.  We sat at the balcony behind his house, facing a lush green forest.  As we spoke, a flock of ducks paraded by, birds chirped continuously, and a monkey jumped on the roof.  The nawab and his wife are both wonderful people, mashaAllah.  They live in Hyderabad, but visit Mudumalai often to oversee their thriving business: the Safari Land Resort.  They live a very active lifestyle, his favorite being horse riding early in the morning.

He took out photographs and newspaper clippings, and told us about his adventures with great zeal.  He loves wildlife and photography.  And he’s an experienced shooter too, which was the reason why he was asked to shoot the man-eating tigress.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines do not permit a non-forest official to shoot a man-eater unless the forest department is not equipped to do so.  That was why, when the forest officials couldn’t capture the man-eating tigress that had terrorized Faizabad, they asked Nawab Shafath Ali Khan’s help to track down the animal.  It took them forty days.  And in February last year, he finally came face to face with the tigress.

It was declared a man-eater after it killed a boy in December 2008, but the order was revoked after protests from wildlife organizations and environmentalists. It was again declared a man-eater after it killed a man in Faizabad on January 9 last year. The last man it killed was a forest guide, Raghu Raj, on January 15.

So early on that Tuesday morning, the tiger attacked and killed a cow in Bakchula village.  Nawab Shafath Ali Khan said that since the cow was half-eaten, he was sure that the tiger would come again to eat its prey. So he waited the whole day on a scaffolding on a nearby tree.  And sure enough, the animal returned to the spot at around 6 in the evening.

Nawab Shafath Ali Khan sat on a 20 feet high platform with his tracker that evening. The tigress being a very vigilant animal sat just ten yards from the bait.  Once they shone a  light towards it, the tigress leaped towards the light.  This was when he took the first shot between the neck and shoulder, the second shot was on the shoulder and the finishing shot between the eyes.  By this time, the tigress was right under the tree, just three feet away from the nawab.

Wildlife experts point out that it is crucial to take quick action in case of a wandering tiger because if it adapts to eating humans, rehabilitating it in the wild or even in captivity (like in a zoo) becomes difficult. The authorities are then forced to take extreme steps like shooting.

He received a letter of appreciation from Lucknow’s chief conservator of forest.

“I am full of sorrow after killing the animal, but then it had become necessary for saving people and their livelihood.” he said.

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43 Responses to Meeting the Man Who Shot a Tigress

  1. joveria says:

    its sad to kill a beautifull animal but no doubt that it was a necessary action.

  2. Lat says:

    This is sad.I know that tigers are increasingly coming under the endangered species esp so with a female tiger.

    Just want to know why people are allowed to live in the areas where tigers live and frequent? I do understand that tigers do come out of their zone to find food.Isn’t it the job of the authorities to take care of that?I think more steps need to be taken if both tigers and humans are to live safely from each other.But I also know that it’s not easy given the large area for supervision and control.People could be so adamant sometimes.

    • nadia says:

      Lat, unfortunately for India’s tigers, the government seems conflicted about how to manage the country’s forests. It passed a law in 2006 granting millions of Indians living in them legal rights to their land for the first time. That law triggered a nationwide landgrab, with thousands of people flooding into the forests, pressuring wildlife like never before 😦

      So when a tiger wanders off from its territory, enters a village, and kills people, these villagers usually take matters into their own hands and start poisoning the rivers where animals come to drink water. They do this in an attempt to poison the tiger, but as a consequence, other wildlife suffer tremendously.

  3. Narendra Sinha says:

    wow.. meeting with a Nawaab !!
    so now you got a first hand experience of ” Nawaabi Thhat-baath ” and “Nawaabi Shaan-o-shaukat” !!

    btw is he the Nawaab who is there in the picture with the rifle ?
    to which kingdom the Nawaab sahab belonged ?

    • nadia says:

      Narendra, it was wonderful meeting him and his family. They are very humble people. Yes, he’s the one in the picture, the guy holding a rifle. I’m not sure to which kingdom he belongs to. Are there still kingdoms in India?

  4. masood says:

    I am astonished to meet this Nawab sahab, he is different and active from other Nawabs. Truly down to earth and a very humble person. I feel great to meet such a personality.

    • nadia says:

      I can’t compare him with any other nawabs simply because I haven’t met any other 😀 But Nawab Shafath Ali is a very interesting person, and there’s never a dull moment with him! We could spend hours listening to his tales.

  5. Pingback: Meeting the Man Who Shot a Tigress | Tea Break

  6. Narendra Sinha says:

    Nah.. there is nothing like kingdoms and Kings/Nawabs/Khan-Bahadur’s/Rai-Bahadurs’s etc. now.

    But.. since their fore-fathers were men of valour & courage which inspires their present generations too they have a sense of belonging to their erstwhile kingdoms. Also, a good King/Nawab/Maharaja still does work for his people.
    For instance: Saif Ali Khan (Bollywood actor) belongs to the royal family of “Pataudi”. His father Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi is the Nawab of Pataudi.

    That is what i meant when i asked about Nawaab Shafath Ali jee’s Kingdom.

    and yeah the royal’s are really remarkable people in their hospitality, courtesy and humbleness.

    It was nice to know that you met one of the good families.

  7. Narendra Sinha says:

    ** Ohh..i forgot to give the above comment in the “reply” part and now it is appearing as a fresh comment…. ‘am sorry ..my mistake **

    • nadia says:

      Narendra, no problem at all; the comments are all in the same page, so it’s okay.

      Alright, so I now I understand what you meant by kingdom. But I didn’t get the chance to ask nawab sahab regarding this 😦

  8. 'liya says:

    I think you should write a book on everything you experienced on this trip!

    The result of the tiger is sad but necessary as someone above said. What a beautiful but dangerous creature…

  9. Specs says:

    OMG, this was so interesting!

    And something I should not have seen in the middle of eating cereal. 😦

  10. Behbood says:

    Nice! The Nawab was awefully close with the tigress when he released the final bullet. What if he had missed? Then one more casualty would have been added to that list…

    • nadia says:

      Behbood, I know! And when we asked him, “Aap ko dar nahi laga?” He glanced up towards his wife and replied, “I’ve been married to her for so long ke ab kissi cheez se dar nahi lagta” 😀

  11. K. Anand says:

    Dear Mr. Shafath Ali Khan,

    Very sad to know that killing a tiger became a neccessity. Also noted that you have a resort near Mudumalai Is it between Masinagudi and Kalhatty ghats, leading to Ooty?

    If I may, I have the following observations to make: The road from Theppakadu to Masinagudi is lushly wooded However, the minute one crosses the checkpost and goes past the Masinagudi town the forest thins down. The density of foliage is nowhere near Mudumalai. Can this forested region be restored?

    We are trying to restore a patch of degraded forests across the border adjacent to Bandipur. We have dug a couple of water holes and are now planting 7000 native trees. I am told that the rainfall near Masinagudi is sharply higher. So the response to afforestation and construction of water holes may be really good.

    Let us have your thoughts.

    Thanks

    anand

  12. Mezba says:

    The tiger is such a majestic animal, even when it’s dead! Sad but needed action.

    Meeting a nawab must have been nice! Your vacation is like an adventure.

    • nadia says:

      Mezba, it is truly majestic!

      Meeting a nawab has been very interesting. Oh, and when he learned that I loved photography, he actually encouraged Masood to support my hobby 🙂

  13. Wow.
    Thats really sad mann. Tigers are such beautiful creatures!

    I love reading your travel posts! tis like you take us there! 😀

    • nadia says:

      Smiley, I feel sad each time I see the picture of the dead tigress above. I wish that no other tiger will ever be killed this way again.

  14. sharmila says:

    when is a tiger declared man-eater … why he becames man-eater ? … i agree with “Lat” why are the authorities can’t do their job properly .. it’s sad …indian tigers are on the edge of extinction n killing one is sad beyond words !!

    people are killed by the tiger in “sundarban” area yet they worship the creature … if u live nearby these forest n feel safe … then he is a fool !!

    • nadia says:

      Sharmila, tigers normally avoid humans; we are not part of their regular diet, so they are not interested in us. The transformation of a tiger into a man-eater begins only when some factors begin to deprive a tiger of it’s ability to outwit and overpower it’s normal prey. These factors can be injury (another animals bite, accidents, to poacher’s gunshots not completing their job), sickness, or even depression.

      Now, a tiger’s regular prey have fine-tuned all their senses to detect the approach of a predator before it gets them. So the chances of a wounded or old tiger to catch and kill its prey becomes very low.

      It is during this phase that if an injured tiger crosses paths with a human, which results in the latter being killed, it realizes the physical weakness of man and includes him in it’s menu. Once a tiger loses it’s fear of man, it is one of the most dangerous animals in the world. They are known to be violently aggressive without reason and definitely pose a threat to the human population in the area.

      Of course, forest officials are there to make sure that tigers are safe from poachers and remain far from villages, but like you said, villagers themselves break into the tigers’ territory 😦

  15. reedssss says:

    wow^_^ this is intrestinggggggggg u shuld write a book abut this whole trip

  16. д§mд says:

    sometimes it gets inevitable … just wondering if capturing the tigress alive and putting her in some animal sanctuary would have done the trick? Considering the large-falling number of tigers 😦

    BTW what a beauty she was … but obviously not that for the victims and their families.

    • д§mд says:

      Oh and it reminded me of the movie I watched few weeks back on man eaters of Tsavo .. The ghost and the darkness was the name .. must watch 🙂

      • nadia says:

        Asma, from what nawab sahab has told me, the forest officials have decided that this injured cat – who has tasted human flesh – could no longer survive in the sanctuary or in a zoo. It was considered dangerous and a threat to everyone 😦

        The ghost and the darkness – thanks for the recommendation! I’ll watch it during the weekend 🙂

  17. Haris Gulzar says:

    Well, the animal looks beautiful doesn’t she. Sad she got killed. So it seems you guys are in India these days? Enjoying summers :-). Have a great time and take care. Salam to Masood as well…

    • nadia says:

      Haris, welcome back!

      Masood and I are back in the deserts of Arabia, but yes, we had an amazing time in India 😀

      I’ll convey your salaam to him.

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  19. hfm says:

    the tigeress looks so soulful in death :9
    Must’ve been some experience!

    • nadia says:

      hfm, meeting the nawab was a very interesting experience. And before we left, he gave us an autographed copy of that photograph 🙂

  20. Pingback: Things To Do at the Safari Land Resorts (And How We Spent the Night in the Jungle) «

  21. Manzoor Khan says:

    Aadaab. Nice blogpost. Yes, of late, I learnt about the Nawab Sahaab – he’s passionate about Jeeps, and was instrumental in organizing Jeep Thrills, Hyderabad Chapter. That’s how I learnt about him.

    I live in Hyderabad, (though not a Nawab by any stretch of imagination), and I can tell you that this Nawab sounds so much different from the rest of the lot!

    Bravo Nawab Sahaab.

    Read this: http://manzoorkhan.blogspot.com/2006/08/pataudis-elegant-and-spirited-nawabs.html

  22. Ahmed Wajeeh says:

    This episode is more than just sad, its ironic and its demeaning, I have a fair idea of the so called jungles this tigress covered on her illfated journey,

    It was sheer idiotic and non professional approach of the forest department and district authorities .

    These people were just running about without any action plan, just chasing the poor animal towards her death , and in the process 4 human beings lost their lives, none of the forest covers are as huge and non negtialble as presented to media, and it would have been a very easy job to track and dart the animal silently or to lay a trap .

    Nothing can be changed now , and i certainly do not blame Nawab Sahib for jumping at the oportunity of shooting a Tiger , there is nothing more appealing to a big game hunter than a tiger as a trophy maneater or not.

    He had the oportunity , resources , connections and the skill of shooting straight, its an achievement very few can boast of legally and openly, our tiger population is sch dire straits because there are people out there poaching them.

    I wonder when IFS exams will be more than just a competition of bookish knowledge .
    I had the oportunity of tracking a big cat (supposedly tiger ) in 2006 in Barabanki district, i have its pugcast till date whith me , and any one expert or not can tell that its a big cat, but our then DFO maintained that it was a Hyena , even after visiting the villager who got 50 stitches after recieving a slap from the big cat.

  23. yusra aquib says:

    i know him vvvery well he is my cousins grandpa

  24. Save The Tiger says:

    I wonder how sad he is ? He seems to be relishing his place in the spotlight on the photograph.
    I think it was necessary that post this action, a right answer be given and not a real one !
    Hence, the story of the sadness of the action.

  25. Faraz says:

    After reading http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Nawab-called-in-to-bring-down-maneater/articleshow/11867314.cms , I googled and found this amazing article.
    It is nice to know that some from from Hyderabad is still equipped with this stuff.Being a Hyderabadi myself, I’m proud of Mr Shafath.

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