According to official records, there are approximately 15-50 people killed by tigers every year. The actual number is realistically double that, since people who die later from their injuries, or people who were working in the forest without a permit go unrecorded. Tigers are then sometimes killed in retaliation by the local people. This unnecessary human hardship and animosity towards tigers impedes conservation efforts. To try to alleviate this problem, the Forest Department has started to form Problem Tiger Response Teams (PTRT).
A Problem Tiger Response Team is made up of STP and Forest Department staff trained (or being trained) to deal with situations where tigers are threatening human lives. Stickers advertising a “Tiger Hotline” are posted throughout all the villages and Forest Department patrol posts in and around the Sundarbans. If a tiger wanders into a village or kills someone then people at the scene can call for advise. Whenever necessary, the PTRT will go immediately to the area in question to help.
There is no set strategy for the team responding to a call; every situation will be different and therefore require adaptive solutions to keep both people and tigers safe. The number one priority will always be to minimize the possibility of human injury or deaths. In this regard, much of the PTRT’s efforts will be simply in keeping tiger and humans apart. Further actions will be dictated by the behavior of the tiger, and the immediate level of threat to human life.