India’s famous for more than just Bollywood. Why else would a TV show called World’s Deadliest Towns feature two Indian cities for being among the globe’s hardest places to live in?
Host Dave Salmoni spent a lot of time in the country visiting the Sundarbans, a mangrove forested area that is home to over 250 Bengal tigers in North-East India. Travelling up north, he discovered that tigers and elephants in both areas have been a source of constant terror.
“The tigers in the Sundarbans kill an average of one person a day. It’s very regular,” says Salmoni, who has also visited Africa as part of the three-part mini series, to document the deaths caused by hippopotamuses there.
“And then with the elephants in India, in a location which is a little further north of the Sundarbans, the attacks were so frequent that nine people died in just two weeks in the same area where we were shooting. These were the two Indian places where we analysed dangerous living conditions,” he reveals.
Recalling how the villagers and residents from nearby areas insisted on living there, instead of relocating, Salmoni adds, “They believe God will protect them, hence they continue to live there. But the fact of the matter is that if the animals decide they want to hurt a person, the villagers have no choice.”
As part of playing host, Salmoni stayed with the villagers to experience their terror in person, and on some instances, even helped protect the residents.
“The attacks were really scary. Poor people who live in these places, among the wild animals handle these menaces and protect their houses on their own,” adds Salmoni, who has a degree in zoology and has spent his life studying animals.