BBP caretaker relives the horror of big cats mauling his colleague

Cubs attacked Anji, dragged him to safari area: Huche Gowda

BBP caretaker relives the horror of big cats mauling his colleague

“I owe my life to him. He saved me, but I could not save him,” said a grief-stricken Huche Gowda, who helplessly witnessed his friend and colleague Anjaneya (Anji) being mauled to death by tiger cubs on Saturday evening.

After recording his statement at Bannerghatta police station, Huche Gowda, speaking to DH, recollected the horror.

 “I take care of an enclosure, which houses Vinay, the Royal Bengal tiger. Since Narayanappa, a caretaker of another enclosure, had taken a day off on Saturday, I was also in charge of his enclosure, which housed - Surya, Vanya, Jhansi and Subhadra (all white tigers). I requested Anji to help me out as I was alone,” he said.

“I told him (Anji) to maintain a safe distance and only clean the area. After keeping meat for the animals I closed the cages. There is a small passage between the two cages. Anji trying to clean the area entered the passage space and slipped into the cage. I was picking up the meat tray when I heard Anji scream.  I saw Jhansi attack him and Vanya rushing towards me. I ran into the empty cage next to the wall and pulled the shutters. Vanya and Jhansi attacked Anji and dragged him into the safari area. Stranded in the cage, I screamed for help. Krishna and Nanjappa, animal-keepers in the other areas came running. I had also called up Mallur and Shivakumar, two caretakers, and informed them about the incident.

“The news spread and other staffers came in safari buses and jeeps. I then came out of the enclosure and re-checked the locks of enclosures where Surya and Subhadra were housed. With help of my colleagues, Vanya and Jhansi were brought back to their enclosure.”

Working since 21 years

Gowda, 38, has been working in BBP since 21 years. He was posted as animal-keeper only last year. Before his new posting, he worked as the gatekeeper, safari gate operator and night patrol. “Even though I am scared, this is my job and I love animals. I will report back to duty tomorrow. This is the only source of income of my family,” Gowda said with tears in his eyes.

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