Tiger attacks turn honey collector into tiger protector

The short-statured forest guide, who is in the profession of a forest guide for more than 30 years now understands what the compulsion is for the tigers to attack humans or raid villages in search of preys which are dwindling in the Sunderbans.

Yet, Raptan, 60 a honey collector, did not wish to become a forest guide not having even the foggiest idea about the calling. It just happened when 42 years back the then forest field director Pranabesh Sanyal broached the idea.

"I naively asked what a forest guide was all about, though because of my deep knowledge of the Sunderbans I had helped quite a number of people find ways about the forest and helped forest officials to recover tiger attack victims," Raptan said.

Now an active campaigner for 'Save Sunderbans', Raptan, resident of Jameshpur village on the edge of the forest frequented by tigers, has the scientific names of the 84 species of mangrove and mangrove-related plants and 200 species of birds and other denizens on his fingertips.

He regularly guides foreign TV crews and numerous internationally-known photographers into the forest's deep recesses.

Raptan says he can anticipate movement of animals by sensing the change in wind pattern and had successfully prevented the big cats from having their preys by warning fishermen and honey collectors in advance.

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