|Ayesha A. Siddiqi||Jan 6|
July 2017 In Uttar Pradesh, India, farmers are being accused of sending their elders into the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve to be eaten. Their government only compensates tiger attacks that occur within the village, not inside the reserve. Mauled bodies have been found in the village's sugar cane fields, while bloody clothes and car tracks lead into and out of the tiger reserve. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau corroborated official accounts with evidence of intent. This photo is from a 2013 hunt for a man-eating tiger, the only kind authorized to be put to death. The villagers in Uttar Pradesh, home to some of the last remaining tigers in the world, don't seem keen on their neighbors being designated as man eaters. Their focus has been on submitting the deaths and requesting the purse (about 15k in our money). Some even admitted the deaths were orchestrated, but tiger attacks arent new there. Bad crop yields and rampant unemployment have impoverished Pilibhit, once only known for producing woodwind instruments and a mushroom that allegedly tastes like mutton. Locals used to make livings selling forest fruit or working for forest contractors. In 2014 the area became what the Hindustan Times described as a 'new human animal conflict zone' when it was declared a reserve, a victory hailed by the international conservationist community. Villagers started being arrested for trespassing on forest land they once freely harvested. And a revived tiger population made boundaries between predator and farmer dangerously thin and porous (in some places just 10 meters wide). Unable to afford fencing, farmers were told to travel in groups and avoid tiger paths - which criscrossed the land. The 15 people killed this summer were all elders seemingly taken into the forest. Headlines sensationalize the events as barbaric, but aren't both animal and human behaving naturally? The tigers are responding to the offense of trespassing, village elders are trying to provide for their young. People's bodies are sacrificed to their circumstances everyday, capitalism offers no shortage of varied barbarisms. The only luxury is occasionally being able to choose who gets fed.