Website by AQEEL FAROOQI  



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An article by Aqeel Farooqi

First published in Hindustan Times, Lucknow, January 2, 2002


Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years


A tribute to Charger – the long living tiger

There have been quite a number of wild tigers that have become famous during their lifetime, by virtue of either some special characteristic inherent in them, or due to the mere fact that their high visibility in the forest has been instrumental in making them subjects of sustained documentation of their lives through extensive photographs and text.

The ones that come readily to mind are Sheroo, the Corbett tiger that attained fame initially due to his easy demeanour and high visibility, but later became infamous after his mauling of Subedar Ali, a forest department staffer posted in Corbett. Then there was Dhitoo, another robust male tiger from Corbett, whose infamy condemned him to an existence in the Kanpur zoo after he mauled and killed David Hunt, an English birdwatcher on a visit to the tiger reserve. In Bandhavgarh tiger reserve, there was the legendary tigress Sita, who attained international recognition for her high fecundity and the large number of litters that she bore during her lifetime.

But very few wild tigers have been able to achieve a reputation as awesome as the one that has gone the way of a male tiger called Charger, who was till recently a resident of Bandhavgarh national park in Madhya Pradesh, located about 250 kms south of Allahabad. For almost the entire decade of the nineties, Charger happened to be the most feared and talked about tiger, for both the tourists as well as the wildlife managers of Bandhavgarh.

As his name suggests, Charger was so called because of his instinctive propensity to charge at vehicles and riding elephants that tended to come too close for his comfort. Since tiger behaviour can vary extremely with different individuals, this inherent characteristic of Charger was acknowledged and respected by all, once he established his territory on the tourism zone in Bandhavgarh.

Fortunately, Charger was able to continue holding his territory for almost ten years, and sired many litters till he died naturally last year of old age and consequent debility. During his last days he did run into trouble, unable to hunt after being injured and chased away from his territory by a young dominant male, but that was all a part of the natural sequence that wild tigers go through. What was of importance was the fact that Charger had been able to live naturally as long as wild tigers are supposed to do, and his passing away left no regrets.

Charger’s life and times have now been documented in the form of a book titled ‘Charger – the long living tiger’. It has been authored by Shahbaz Ahmed, a 1981 batch IFS officer of MP cadre, who was Field Director of Bandhavgarh tiger reserve at the time of Charger’s death, and has been published by Print World, an Allahabad based publishing house. The book contains text that delves into the realm of tiger behaviour from a writer who possesses a deep insight of the subject, and it is also beautifully embellished with photographs of Charger. It carries a graphic account of the last days of Charger, when he had to be rescued from certain starvation, and possible poaching, after he was chased away from his territory and spotted in the buffer zone of the reserve. There are also interesting accounts of actual encounters which people had with Charger, and the viciousness which he was able to convey during all the mock charges that he made at his terrified targets, although he never as much as hurt any human being during his entire life.

Which brings me to my own encounter with Charger – an entirely insipid affair. It was in 1993 during my first visit to the park, which was around the same time that Charger had just begun to make his reputation. The forest guide in my Gypsy had most emphatically made us turn away, to prevent approaching a huge male tiger that sat in a bamboo thicket bordering the grassland. In answer to my protest, the guide explained that this particular tiger was very dangerous, liable to charge us on further approach. He said it was called PP Singh. Well, I accepted. Maybe it was named after some tough Field Director who had at one time been the scourge of the staff. No, I was informed. They called him so because he had once charged so viciously at an elephant carrying some tourists that one of the terrified group had lost control of his sphincter muscles, and let go on the elephant.

It was then that the penny dropped! Before he became famous as Charger, he was known as pee pee Singh.