BADABON.

If there is one place on earth, that can be called the Tiger’s Lair, it is Sunderbans. This vast mangrove forest, almost six times the area of greater London stretches over India and Bangladesh for 9500 sq. Km. This archipelago is home to one of the deadliest predators in the world, the Royal Bengal Tiger. Unlike the rest of the species, these big cats in the brackish waters of the 400-kilometre wide Ganga-Brahmaputra delta are notorious for their reputation of being man-eaters. About 60-70 people are killed every year, making it the worst case of human-animal conflict in the world.

 

The mono-crop agriculture does not generate sufficient income and lack of options within the island force these people to venture into the forest, exposing themselves to attacks from wild animals. Frequent cyclones and floods thwart any progress and increasing their dependence on the forest resources. It has become a game of Russian roulette for them with the risk of life taken as a desperate measure for survival which is the most accessible alternative available to them. 

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Through my photographs, I have tried to put forward the dialectics of this relationship which has been shaped by the region’s history of continuous plunder. How the continually evolving environment of a tectonically active delta has impeded their development, setting in a defeatist attitude; shattering the confidence. The Tiger first policy has elevated the big cat to the status of a global citizen, but the 4.5 million people living in the area have been pushed to the margin, and their alienation is on the rise. The mono-crop agriculture does not generate sufficient income and lack of options within the island force these people to venture into the forest, exposing themselves to attacks from wild animals. Frequent cyclones and floods thwart any progress and increasing their dependence on the forest resources. It has become a game of Russian roulette for them with the risk of life taken as a desperate measure for survival which is the most accessible alternative available to them. My work first illustrates the fragile yet stunning landscape and then traces the history of the region with visual references from local archives. It further showcases the plight of people whose lives have been defined by the everyday conflict with wild, and elements of nature. Lastly, it looks into their blind faith in the supernatural and the cult of the tiger-god.