Humans and animals have always had an interesting partnership throughout our mutual history. We have domesticated some of them, hunted others for food and clothing, and built homes and walls to keep unwanted ones out.
They live beside us as partners and companions but they shouldn’t be underestimated. Just like cooperations with people relationships can turn sour. They remember when we wrong them, and just like our interpersonal relationships, things can go very wrong….
Smarter than the average bear
Animals are much smarter than most people think. Despite our long standing relationship with them for the most part, we just assume they are beneath us and don’t contain much in the way of intelligence. Of course we can train animals to do things but beyond that we just assume they exist only to eat and sleep. Some animals however can learn fairly complicated tricks and tasks
Planet of the Dolphins
Aside from our closest living relatives the great apes who have shown exceptional skill in language and social queues such as Coco, ravens have also demonstrated heightened intelligence as well as many marine mammals like whales and dolphins who might one day be smarter than us.
Don’t mess with birds
Ravens are so incredibly talented that they not only remember someone’s face but they can also teach it to their offspring and their friends. For a long time we believed that this skill, this almost palpable notion of revenge, was somewhat unique within the animal kingdom but we are consistently surprised as time passes.
This land is my land
Each year as our population grows we end up further and further onto the natural habitat of the animals that we still don’t fully understand. Our interactions with them become more heated as a result. Just like we want land for our homes, they don’t want to lose theirs, tensions rise, and violence from greed and desperation begin.
Notably in India and parts of Asia this sort of aggression is fairly common as vital resources are scarce. Attacks by Elephants on local villages are often a direct result of a human attacking a member of the group, or just by simply taking away the ancestral home of these majestic animals. We have a history of taking what we believes is ours.
As recently as this year, people have hunted an animal so close to extension that only two members of the species remain alive. All to fill out our desire for pretty things. The male white Rhino has been officially labeled an extinct animal having being hunted for its ivory horn to adorn the homes of the wealthy and the greedy.
See my vest
In ancient times, when an animal was hunted, those who took down the animal would use as much as possible. Today though, poaching in these parts of the world is a lucrative industry rather than a necessity. Hunting and tracking rare and endangered animals for their hide or horns. Making tables, cups, coats, anything you could imagine simply as a status symbol of the well off.
War of the animals
Battles have broken out over the protection of these animals between the poachers and the army of many given countries. In the case of the rhino, he was given 24/7 armed guards to be by his side all the time. However the tenacity of the hunters could not be stopped and the rhino passed away.
What we don’t often consider is what happens when we fail an animal, and what happens when another animal sees the atrocities of man first hand? The social structure and hierarchy of animals make them protective of their pack and they will take action to defend their own and when they themselves feel threatened.
Kitty goes Rawr
On a Monday in March of 2016, morning news outlets began reporting that a male tiger had attacked and killed the infamous poacher Baby who earlier that year had been out in the jungle hunting for pelts. Spying a pair of tigers in the jungle he took aim, and shot the female.
Baby was part of a gang who was held up in the jungle to stay hidden by authorities. Among them were poachers, arrack preparers, and illegal alcohol brewers using the terrain to keep themselves safe from the watching eyes of the government. It was only after Thamby, a bootlegger, was arrested that anyone learnt of the attack.
Strangely despite being arrested for illegal alcohol production, Thamby calmly admitted to the poaching of a female tiger a month prior and the death of Baby at the hands of the male. The forest ranger, KA Saju recalls the description of the tiger incident at the time of the apprehension.
Amazingly Ok With it?
“Thamby said it casually and we don’t have any proof of it. We don’t even know whether the tiger that attacked Baby was a male. Being a forest official for so many years, I have never heard of a tiger taking revenge for its partner’s death. It may have happened but we are not sure about it,” said Praveen Bhargov of Wildlife First.
Freedom from captivity
Previously there have been mixed reports of animals acting out when under stress or provoked. At the San Francisco Zoo in 2007 a Siberian Tiger was able to get escape the enclosure and seeming chase down and kill one of the visitors while injuring two others.
Coffee with your people
Incident reports of the attack state that the visitors had been taunting the animal while it was in its cage and caused undue stress on the tiger. When the animal escaped his enclosure he chased them to the park and into a cafe where one was bitten and died from his wounds later. Authorities were forced to shoot the tiger to prevent further injuries
No one can agree
Investigations are still underway to deal with what actually happened as poaching and hunting is prohibited in most parts of the world as international organizations seek to end the practice. Expert opinion is divided on what occurred with the tiger as instances like this aren’t common at all.
Cats want us dead
Dave Salmoni a predator expert working for animal planet stated “That tiger could have been surrounded by 10,000 people,” and if the animal had a mission, “it will avoid all of those people and just to go to those three people. There’s nothing more focused than a tiger who wants to kill something.”
Accident or Revenge
Conversely, Praveen Bhargov of Wildlife First is not convinced of the situation being what has been reported. In a statement to reporters he laid out what he felt was more likely. ”Even when human mortality does take place, it is invariably an accidental killing and not revenge seeking behaviour.”
Fantastic Story of Murder?
Bhargov added that “ In the specific incident at Pathanamthitta, the gang of hunters have illegally intruded into wildlife habitat resulting in the death of one hunter. This needs to be investigated as fights between members of hunting gangs sometimes lead to murders which is covered up by concocting such stories.”
Buy wet food
While most of us will never end up in a situation that involves poaching or having a large animal hunting us slowly it isn’t a smart idea to underestimate our furry housemates. One day mittens may be hunting more than just the moth fluttering around the room. Soon enough mittens could be hunting you.