The Western Ghats that stretch across three states: Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are prime tiger territory. Usually, these big cats stay deep in the jungles and are seldom seen anywhere close to the roads that pass through the various forests that form a part of the Western Ghats. But there are always exceptions, like this nightmarish incident from Wayanad, Kerala. Known for its lush, evergreen forests, Wayanad is home to over 75 tigers and one such tiger gave a couple of motorcyclists the scare of their lives when it leapt out of the jungle and seemed to charge at them. Luckily for the motorcyclists, the tiger didn’t actually manage to get them. If it had, things could have gone horribly wrong. Here’s the video of the incident.
As the video indicates, two men on what seems to be a commuter motorcycle are seen riding on a road adjoining a jungle. One man seems to be filming the ride with his phone’s camera. Suddenly, a tiger is seen in the frame, charging through the jungle and getting onto the road. From the looks, it appears as though the tiger is charging at the men on the motorcycle. There could be other explanations as well. It could be that the tiger spotted a prey in the jungle on the other side of the road and wanted to leap across and surprise its prey.
But this is not what it looks like when the video is slowed down sufficiently. The tiger clearly seems to be charging at the motorcycle. The slow motion footage shows that the tiger initially moves diagonally across the road, and at one point veers dramatically to get directly behind the motorcycle. This happens in a fraction of a second, and is easy to miss. You can check this out between the 4th and 5th second of the video. Just make sure that you slow it down to 0.25X.
There could be many other explanations for the tiger’s behaviour. The men could be stalking the tiger with an intention to capture it on camera. A territorial animal, the tiger may not appreciate the presence of men and may have simply driven home the message that they were unwelcome in its territory by giving them a good scare. Whatever may be the case or reason for the tiger charging at the motorcyclists, it puts the spotlight on the warning that forest department officials put at regular intervals on roads passing through jungles: Do not stop while passing through a jungle. Man animal conflict is growing in India, as the country industrializes and there’s vehicular traffic in prime wildlife zones. The Western Ghats have roads criss crossing them, and often wild animals end up as road kills. In the past year alone, over 200 leopards have been killed in road accidents across India. There’s an urgent need to create vehicle free corridors for wild animals to cross from one part of the jungle to another.