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Tourists head to Corbett despite maneater scare.

Though a man-eater on the prowl at the Jim Corbett National Park has triggered panic in the 201 square mile-large park, holidayers haven't been deterred from their quest to catch a rare glimpse of the big cat. In the last fortnight, two women in the villages of Sunderkhal and Chokmu near the park have been mauled to death and partially eaten by a tiger. "Despite these incidents being well-known, the lodges and resorts in and around the park and safari jeeps are completely booked. There are no signs of cancellations," maintains Manish Kumar, who represents Jim's jungle retreat, a popular resort located at the periphery of the park. Kumar went on a camping trip to the park soon after the maneater's antics were reported. "Over 120 vehicles in Bijrani and Jhirna, the two zones of the park where the jungle safari is allowed, are sold out till the first week of December," adds Kumar.

Ashoka's Tiger Trail Resort, an eco-resort near the park also has 60 per cent occupancy. "Tigers don't attack tourist jeeps. Only those who breach their territory are attacked," says Nipun Tewari, the manager of the resort. Tewari isn't surprised at all that tourist traffic to Corbett hasn't dropped. The 90 resorts in village Dhikuli near the park have 50 per cent occupancy at present. "The winter is the season to be in the Corbett National Park. These incidents haven't affected the movement of tourists. We expect even more occupancy around New Year's," says Shahanawaz Ali, sales manager, Jaagar, the Village Resort.

With its thick cover of sal forests, Corbett is home to nearly 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 types of birds and 25 varieties of reptiles. Investigations into the attack so far point towards a young rogue tiger. This was established by examining the pug marks seen near the mauled women. "This is a case of behavioural aberration by a young tiger, which has come in contact with human beings living in the park's periphery," says Imran Khan, wildlife biologist who promoted eco-tourism at Corbett. "Apart from killing two women, the tiger killed three cows too," he adds. Authorities have swung into action and initiated a large- scale operation to locate the tiger. Two cages with animal baits have been placed at different places in the park. So, even though the man-eater is at large, there is no reason for you to cancel your Corbett plans this season. Just take adequate precautions and enjoy your safari.

CORBETT CHECKLIST

Dos

1. Ensure that you have necessary permits before entering the national park.

2. Take your binoculars along and ask a guide to accompany you. Do follow his instructions when trying to spot the striped king.

3. Carry vegetarian food and water. Nonvegetarian food and alcohol is strictly prohibited inside the national park.

Don'ts

1. Get too close to an animal. The animal may seem harmless but could attack you if disturbed. Also, don't try to approach, corner or follow an animal. A direct eye contact, even through a camera lens can seem like a threat to the animal.

2. Try to experiment. Just stick to the known and roads and trails in the Corbett.

3. Wear bright clothes or perfume, as both attract attention in the wild.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Nov 28, 2010
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