Tiger Attack Video & Story

Wildlife Trust of India – India’s Premier Animal Welfare Organisation. Wildlife Conservation|

Delayed reports from the field and video replays of the attack by the tigress on the mahout Satya Pegu, tell a different story, where human lives were saved purely due to “quick thinking” by the female working elephant, Joymala.

For those who came in late, a large adult tigress, suspected to be the mother of the two cubs rescued from Tamuli Pathar village(adjoining Kaziranga) on May 16, severely mauled the mahout of an Assam forest department elephant, which was carrying rangers trying to dart her on the morning of May 19.

The 25-year-old mahout, Satya Pegu, who was badly lacerated, lost three fingers on his left hand, is in a hospital in Dibrugarh. Doctors are worried about the onset of gangrene and may have to amputate his left palm.

The Wildlife Trust of India and its partner, the International Fund for Animal Welfare have offered to cover his medical expenses.

Reconstruction of events and a video taken by the divisional forest officer, R.K.Das, graphically show how Joymala pinned down the tigress with her foot as it was trying to get up and attack the officers who had fallen on the ground.

The reconstructed story goes a bit like this: the forest department received a message early on May 19th about a large tiger which had killed two cows near Tamuli Pathar village, which is close to the boundary of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in the north-eastern Assam state.

By 10 am a joint team of the Assam forest department including the director of the park, Mr N. K. Vasu, the local administration, police and the army, and the Wildlife Trust of India(WTI)-managed Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) was combing the area with five elephants trying to locate the animal.

File photo of the team that darted the tigers. Second from left is D.D.Boro who darted both tigers but missed the suspected mother, who later mauled the mahout.

“From the pugmarks, it looked like a very large female, which led us to suspect that this may be the mother of the two cubs that we had rescued and released on Monday,” Dr Bhaskar Choudhary, CWRC veterinarian, who was involved in darting the two sub-adult tigers on Sunday, said. The tigers were released late on Monday evening in the eastern part of the Agoratuli range near the Matiaranga guard hut.

“After looking around everywhere, we first spotted the tigress in a bamboo grove near the village. As it sensed our presence it moved into the backyard of a hut and then quickly walked into a nearby paddy field,” Dr Chaudhary said.

Range officer, Dharanidhar Bodo, Dr Chaudhary along with a guard were riding the elephant, Joymala, driven by Pegu. Bodo was carrying the darting gun. As the elephant moved towards the tigress, it did a mock charge. The guard fired two blanks to discourage her and she ran away into the next field, where the paddy was thick and hid there.

The team cautiously moved towards it and could get to almost 20 feet where she was growling away. Bodo could see her clearly and took a shot at it with the dart gun. The dart missed her and this enraged her so much that she charged and took a “flying” leap on to the elephant’s head. “I have not seen something as dramatic as this,” Vivek Menon, executive director WTI, who recently saw the footage, said. “I could never imagine that a tiger could so effortlessly leap from the ground on to an adult elephant’s head, which is at least 12 feet above the ground,” he said.

The footage showed that Pegu saw the tigress leaping and threw the metal ankush at it to defend himself. “The tigress saw the ankush coming, dodged it in mid-leap and took a swipe at Pegu without actually landing on the elephant, which had stepped back,” Menon said.

“It all happened in a few seconds and before we knew what both Bodo and the guard had fallen down,” Dr Choudhary narrated. What now happened was even more amazing. As the tigress landed on the ground Joymala quickly pinned her down with her left fore foot and tried to control it with its trunk. The tigress struggled under this weight for at least half a minute roaring, as other people in the vicinity shouted and fired shots in the air. In this commotion another attempt was made to dart it, but even this shot was off the mark. The tigress finally struggled loose and ran away.

“If it had not been for Joymala, both Bodo and the guard would have been badly injured or dead,” he said. Meanwhile, Joymala, which was trying to aggressively chase the tigress, was calmed by the CWRC veterinarian, who was holding on to the profusely bleeding mahout. “His fingers were hanging by few shreds of tissue and I tried to tourniquet the wounds,” he said.

The two sub-adult tigers had strayed out of the heavily wooded Agoratuli range of the KNP into the neighbouring Tamuli Pathar village close to the national highway. It was speculated that the mother could be nearby, but she could not be spotted.

KNP has one of the highest density of tigers among the protected areas in India , but are difficult to see due to the thick vegetation in this grassland dominated park.

The Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) is a joint venture of the Assam forest department and the Wildlife Trust of India, and is supported by its partner the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). This rescue and rehabilitation facility for animals of the region is a first of its kind facility in India has handled over 300 animals in the last two years including mega-herbivores like elephants, rhinos and wild buffaloes. These were the first tigers brought to the facility in two years of its existence. Thanks to Randy Marks for this video.

13 thoughts on “Tiger Attack Video & Story”

  1. Get well soon Satya. Years ago I had a declawed tiger take control of my right foot outside the cage. I mananage to distract her with my hands appearing like a bird flying away, and she let go of my foot. They are unbelievable strong. I thought my foot was nailed to the deck. Very scary. Is the video of Joymala standing on the tiger available? That has to be one beautiful elephant.
    I also worked with elephants back in 1973. I miss them dearly.
    Much Metta.

  2. Really the Joymala acted like a true friend of man. really its awasome.
    First I got the video without the story, I was very scared for stya, but when I read the whole story, really I m feeling very happy. Please let me know whether the video of Joymala standing on the tiger available. I desperately wants to see it.

    And this is the special messege for satya
    Get well soon & Dont forget joymala ever who had acted like godess & saved ur life.

  3. amazing!! humans think they are mightier than all but the ones we own/subdue are the ones with real strength. both the tigress and Joymala proved it. Get well Satya. SALAM (salute) to Joymala.

  4. Glad the man (men) will live. Sounds like a little bit of spin to me though.

    How about some pictures of the elephant at work on the tiger???

  5. I’m going to assume there is no embellishment in this story, though I remain suspicious.

    Elephants are truly wonderful, majestic beasts. I hope Satya is doing well. Personally, I wouldn’t go *anywhere near* a tigress with cubs.

    Best wishes.

  6. I was in the Kaziranga area in May 2006, and I heard about the story. Truly amazing.

    I also heard about a farmer (of the Kaziranga area) who clubbed a tiger on its back with a bamboo pole – as the beast was about to get away with one of his cows one night. The man lived to tell his tale.

    One night, a Royal Bengal tiger had ripped apart the corrugated iron gate of a cattle shed with a few blows of his massive paws – in search of a meal. Hearing the commotion, the owner awoke (or perhaps he was not asleep). Not wanting to lose one of his precious cattle, he gave a big blow to the tiger on his back with a bamboo pole. One or two blows of such a pole are enough to fell a person.

    The tiger was stunned and as he turned to face the farmer, he found that some other farmers had come out – armed with bamboo poles and spears. Not wanting to face a crowd of humans meaning business, the tiger retreated gradually – stopping now and then to turn back and snarl at the man arling who cost him his dinner. So goes the story.

    There are other tales… like that of a rhino who found his way to the agriculture office in a nearby sub-divisional town on a New Year’s eve. May be, it wanted to submit a petition about farms and farming.

    The Kaziranga area abounds with wild life … and is very nice place to visit during the November – March months. Definitely worth a look.

  7. In my next trip to Kaziranga, I must personally congratulate Joymala. I could not BEEELIEVE the footage ! And the first time I saw it, there wasn’t anything to indicate that Bodo and the guard had actually fallen off the elephant as the tigress sprang, targetting Pegu. Thereafter, the video was a blur of confusion. Is it possible that Mr Das has taken the shot of Joymala pinning down the tigress to save two human lives ? If it is, could you post it please ? Please do get well Satya…nobody but you guys actually know what it is to meet a furious tigress as it springs the 9′ to a female elephant’s head ! There are no words to describe your bravery.

  8. The official website of Kaziranga National Park is now streaming this and many other rare and wild moments of Kaziranga. There is also a special mention about the rarest moment of the century captured in Kaziranga. – the Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century. How a national park would look under the eclipse?

    All these and other photos, facts and maps can be found in this website.

    Link – http://www.worldheritagekaziranga.com

    – Supported by UNESCO World Heritage Biodiversity in India.

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