The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
Thakur Paramjit

THE majestic tiger has found a new home — in the houses of Americans living in Texas. While in our country, we commonly see a small plate reading "Beware of Dog"; in Texas a big board reads "Danger. No trespassing — violators will be eaten".

Keeping tigers as pets can be gratifying for the ego.
Keeping tigers as pets can be gratifying for the ego.

While kings and nobles have been keeping the Cheetah as a pet, the concept of keeping the tiger as a pet is a new one. During the last few years, the ‘fashion’ of keeping tigers as pets has assumed such a magnitude in Texas that approximately 2500 of them live as pampered children of Americans. And that makes the second largest population of tigers in the world — just a few hundred less than those in India, the land of the tiger. This is a welcome trend as far as the conservation of tigers is concerned.

Texas, also known as Lone Star State because of a single star on its flag, is the second largest state of America. Triangular in shape, it is spread over an area of 6,92,408 sq. km and has the maximum dimensions (1285 km) from North to South and (1245 km) from East to West. From 1682 to 1836, it was ruled first by Spain and then by Mexico. It won its independence in the year 1836, but its boundary with Mexico was finally settled only after the Mexican-American war held from 1846 to 1848.


Why do Texans prefer a tiger to a dog, in spite of its being a big and dangerous creature? Firstly, the satisfaction of human ego and attaining the sense of distinction. Secondly, usually one can procure a tiger cub at the same rate as that of a premium dog breed. Thirdly, this is in vogue. Others states too are following suit, albeit at a lesser scale.

Tigers have been associated with man since 2500 BC as depicted in relics of Mohenjodaro and Harappan civilisations. This magnificent animal has been the ‘hero’ of the East. The Europeans invested dignity in the lion as the ‘King of the Beasts’. It was only in the 3rd century BC that Greeks had their first opportunity of seeing a live tiger, courtesy Alexander the Great. And Romans saw one in the first century BC.

Americans’ taking pride in their pet tigers seems surprising, as Westerners have always considered tiger as ‘game’. Tiger hunting has been a favourite recreation and been considered as an act of bravery by Rajput kings, Mughals, the British and their guests. Many hundred tigers were wiped out during those days, and this animal reached the brink of extinction.

Is it safe to rear a tiger at home? Well it is pretty risky. In the age of advanced electronic gadgets such as robot dogs and virtual pets, Texans love to keep tigers as their pets because as they say, "It is the thrill and sense of adventure".

Some tiger shoots in India

Bengal Civil Servant George Yule, shot about 500 tigers in 28 years.

Col. Nightingale shot 300 tigers up to 1868

Col. Rice killed 95 tigers in 4 years.

Gordon Cumming shot 74 tigers in two years.

Montague Gerard shot 230 tigers.

1055 tigers were killed by villagers in Maharashtra between 1821-1828.

Captain Caulfied killed 93 tigers by poisoning.

Maharaja of Surguja killed 1710 tigers.

Maharaja Ganga Singh shot 104 tigers.

Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior shot 700 tigers.

Duke of Windsor shot 17 tigers in one week in 1921.

Two tigers were killed at Ranthambhor in 1961 during the visit of Queen Elizabeth.

Jim Corbett shot a large number of tigers in Uttar Pradesh.

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