Heckled and teased, tiger charges at tourists at Nainital zoo
A video shot by Chandigarh-based wildlife enthusiast Harmit Ahuja shows 14-year-old tiger Betal of Pt. GB Pant High Altitude Zoo in Nainital charging at tourists.
The 58-second video shows that the big cat was initially avoiding the hue and cry created by tourists, but later got irritated and charged towards the grill of the enclosure.
Shot on February 16 and posted on YouTube, Ahuja has captioned the video as: “After being thoroughly irritated by the onlooking tourists at Nainital zoo, the male tiger makes an aggressive charge leaving the people surprised and bewildered. An interesting tiger behaviour was observed by me for the first time in captivity in a zoo. Total aggression after being irritated.”
The big cat in action can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HcBcSYhICs.
Ahuja had also shot two videos in 2016 inside Corbett Tiger Reserve. One footage captured tourists blocking the path of a tiger in Dhikala zone and the other showed the tiger charging at an elephant. The videos then showed how a cavalcade of gypsies had blocked the natural path of big cats in the reserve that has the highest density of tigers in the country -- 215 as per the last national estimation.
This time Ahuja has shown the plight of animals kept in captivity. “It’s important to make zoos silence zones. Common tourists come to such places, and they create so much noise which irritates the animals. This video shows the tiger got irritated due to teasing,” he said.
Section 38J of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibits teasing in zoos. “No person shall tease, molest, injure or feed any animal or cause disturbance to the animals by noise or otherwise or litter the grounds in a zoo,” says the Act.
The Act does not prohibit or restrict taking pictures or making videos unless the flash irritates the animal.
In 2007-08, about 1.40 lakh tourists visited the zoo that generated a revenue of Rs 30 lakh. The footfall shot up to over 3 lakh in 2016-17, generating Rs 1.37 crore. Entry fee alone accounted for the revenue collection. The daily average footfall at the zoo ranges between 500 and 2000 people.
“We do have security guards inside to keep check over the tourists that create noise and disturb the captive animals. Betal is the newest member of the zoo who was introduced from the wild in January 2017. Such a reaction is obvious at least till it learns to live in captivity,” said Dharam Singh Meena, divisional forest officer (DFO), Nainital, and director of the zoo.
White tiger cubs reportedly mauled a zookeeper at Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bengaluru last year. Earlier, a man was killed by a white tiger in Delhi Zoo after he fell inside its moat.
The Nanintal zoo, situated 2,020m above the sea level, is home to 233 wild animals, including 16 mammals and nine bird species. Royal Bengal Tiger, Himalayan black bear, Markhor (a large species of wild goat native to Pakistan and Afghanistan), red panda and Japanese macaque are among the top attractions.
Rules at Nainital zoo (As per the official website)
Visitors are requested through signage and publication materials to follow the following rules:
• Do not feed animals. It may spoil their health.
• Teasing, disturbing animals by any manner is prohibited and punishable under law.
• Keep the zoo premises clean, use dustbins.
• Keep safe distance from zoo animals.
• Carrying edible materials into the zoo premises is prohibited.
• Carrying radio, taps, loudspeakers, weapons or arms is prohibited.