BENGALURU: When was the last time you heard of a tiger taking on an elephant in the wild? The reaction will most likely be of surprise.
On September 18, Karnataka Forest Department officials found the carcass of a juvenile elephant which had become the meal of a tiger in Bandipur Tiger Reserve’s Kundakere range.
Forest officials say that while this is not rare, it is not common either. Just the previous day, a similar incident was reported in the adjoining Theppekadu range of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve Director T Balachandra said the juvenile elephant, aged around 5-6 years, was injured and left behind by the herd.
Seizing the opportunity, the tiger had preyed on the young elephant. The autopsy, conducted by veterinarians the next day, also confirmed that the juvenile had died under natural circumstances and there was no foul play.
Elephant calves can become easy prey, say experts
Balachandra added that around 20 days ago, another tiger in Bandipur range of BTR had taken away a just-born elephant calf. While some officials termed it as an aggressive biological nature of tigers, others felt that it was sheer survival instinct. Officials from the Wildlife Institute of India also said that these were very rare instances.
“It could be because of hunger or if the elephant had strayed close to tiger cubs,” said former Wildlife Institute of India director G S Rawat. In 2019, officials in Jim Corbet National Park had also found that tigers were killing elephant calves.
Noted tiger scientist K Ullas Karanth pointed out that tigers do kill elephants. He recollected that a few years ago, he had seen two tigers get together to pin down a six-foot-tall elephant. He explained that tigers hunt depending on the size of the elephant.
“They do kill small calves and I have seen them stalk herds. They can kill a elephant calf fairly easily. Though elephants have no predators, the calves become easy prey. But there is danger when a tiger goes after a bull Gaur,” he added.