Three-year-old Vihan Kodwate still has nightmares about the tiger attack and clings to his mother, Sulochana. 

In May 2018, little Vihan had insisted on going with father, Beersingh Kodwate, 25, a Gond Adivasi, on his motorbike to collect tendu leaves. In the summers, these are a major source of livelihood around the forests of central India; tendu leaves are dried and then use for making beedis.

Beersingh had driven a few kilometres from their home in Pindkapar village in Ramtek taluka of Nagpur district, along a forested road, when a full-grown tiger hiding in the bushes near a culvert jumped on their bike and hit them with its paws.

This is an area close to the Pench Tiger Reserve. Both father and son suffered serious injuries, and spent a week at the government hospital in Nagpur, recuperating. Vihan got eight stitches on his head.

The attack was one of many in Vidarbha, signalling an escalating human-tiger conflict and increasing encounters, largely due to a shrinking of habitats for wild animals. See: ‘Where will the tigers go?’
Jaideep Hardikar

Jaideep Hardikar is a Nagpur-based journalist and writer, and a PARI core team member.

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