There are some unfortunate incidents that bring to light the stupendous failures on part of the establishment on one hand, and attest to grim and unavoidable tragedies that befall us every now and then. The accident at Delhi Zoo, in which a 20-year-old mentally challenged man fell into an enclosure occupied by a white tiger and was mauled to death by the incarcerated animal, says more about how inefficiently our systems conduct routine operations than anything else. It is hardly a case of big cat animus, as projected by news outlets and screaming television headlines, which seemed more inspired to rechannelise the folk lore of ‘man-eating tigers’ than hold up a sympathetic portrayal of what happened.
While deepest condolences must be extended to the family of the victim, let’s not make a devil out of the poor white tiger that has been locked up for years and was only giving vent to its guttural instincts. Tigers are carnivores and the apex predator in any food web. It’s natural for them to attack less powerfully built creatures, including, obviously humans. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the authorities at the Delhi zoo failed to provide adequate security and build stronger, intrusion-proof barriers that perimeter the tiger enclosure. White tigers are miniscule in number and happen to be India’s national animal. We have already encroached into their natural habitat, which have sent them leaving pugmarks in semiurban and urban regions. Let’s learn from this tragedy and prepare better for future.