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Tigers at the Gate

Tigers at the Gate

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Following the latest spate of tiger attacks outside Chitwan last fall, representatives of the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal’s leading environmental group, interviewed people who live in the area. They expressed a degree of forbearance unthinkable in Corbett’s day. A teacher at a primary school said the man-eaters should not be killed but, rather, "rehabilitated" in captivity or released deep in the park. Resident Surya Prasad, who has been active in a community-forest project, said: "If the tiger had come to our home and killed us, it would be appropriate to kill the tiger, but since that’s not the case, it would not be appropriate."

Such sentiments reflect an acceptance of nature with the bark on, so to speak, at which many in the West can only marvel. But the fact is, those who live cheek by jowl with tigers every day of their lives understand far better than the rest of us that, in the long run, a world with them is infinitely preferable to a world without them. It may be as simple—and as complicated—as that.


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