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?’