My Last Royal Bengal Tiger Shikar

Kawshik Rahman

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I have been asked by a few honorable members here to share an account of hunting Royal Bengal tigers , a sport which has sadly died ( by legal means ) , but until 1972 , was one of the grandest forms of sport available in old India to clients world wide . I was a Shikari or professional hunter in Darjileeng , India for eight years from 1962 to 1970 along with my best friend and Shikar partner , the late Karim Chowdhury and we guided clients from all over the world to pursue Royal Bengal tiger , leopards , pather, Gaur , boar , Indian Bear , Sambhar deer , crocodile , Nilgai and a variety of other animals ( to say nothing of bird shooting which was superb ) . Today , l will relate an account of my final Royal Bengal tiger ( the last of the four which l have shot ) .

It was 1969 and l was watching my late father’s grocers shop ( he is the gentleman pictured ) during the day time , when l was told by our shop’s chokra ( clerk boy ) that a massive Royal Bengal tiger was haunting the area around the town outskirts. It had killed a maid servant and a postal worker. Remains of a Fakir ( or homeless person ) were also found in a ditch , which bore the unmistakable wound signs of a large tiger. The Darjeeling police had labeled this animal as vermin and therefore no license would be needed to end it’s life. As per the rules of the Nilgiri Wild Life Association in 1962 , you could only hunt one tiger every season with a license. This would be of no consequence to me either way , as my last Royal Bengal Tiger shot prior to this was in 1967 and so l could have merely applied for a license for this tiger. However , l was pleased with the fact that l would not need to be burdened by having to write a letter to the Nilgiri Wildlife Association. That Thursday evening , my friend Karim and l met at the Imperial Restora for a discussion about how to get on with this business. Over a delicious dinner of grilled mutton chops and parathas and two bottles of Stout beer , we laid out our plan of action. Karim had already shot nine Royal Bengal tigers while l had already shot three. More over , we had guided more than a dozen clients who had successfully taken these creatures. Therefore , it was not too intimidating. I had one fire arm in my possession at the time , while Karim had two. I owned an Ishapore side by side 12 bore shot-gun with 70 millimeter chambers. Originally, it was fully choked in both the 32 inch long muzzles. However , l had removed four inches of the barrels to take any choke off from the gun , thereby allowing me to use SG cartridges in the shot-gun without damaging the barrels or deforming the lead SG pellets . My partner , Karim had a similar shot-gun similarly modified. He also had a .22 Long Rifle auto loader by Brno . For our Royal Bengal tiger Shikar , we chose our shot-guns. We were well supplied with SG 12 pellet cartridges by our repeat client and personal friend , Don Fernando Delgado ( The grandfather of a member of these forums ) . Every year , the Don would send or bring us 250 cartridges of 12 bore SG ( any larger quantity of cartridges being prohibited from being brought into the country at a single time ). Some times , if supplies were low , we would reload already expended cartridges . Shot ladles could be had at the local craftsmen's which would cater to the local villagers by selling them matchlock muzzle loaders. Locally made Indian 12 bore cartridges were foul things which misfired all too frequently . However , priming caps and wadding could be of great use by salvaging these from these cheap , locally available Indian cartridges. When loading SG shot pellets into these reloaded cartridges , we would treat them with molten wax from bees. The wax was poured over the pellets to hold them together , thereby reducing dispersion and increasing the range a little.
Unlike a leopard , it is not possible to bait a Royal Bengal tiger with a dead animal. The usual method, therefore was to tie a live goat or bullock to a tree and wait in a nearby tree for it to come after sun down to feed .
The next day , we went to a krishok ( or farmer ) to purchase a suitable animal for the purpose of bait. For the Indian equivalent of 25 American Cents , we purchased a female goat which had stopped giving milk . This would be our bait animal. Over weekend , we made our preparations . We cleaned and oiled our shot-guns , took 50 cartridges of SG each , along with a similar quantity of number 6 shot for jungle fowl for our pot. We also took with us some food , bottled water , medical supplies and a customary jar of potash and a sterile razor blade in the event that anyone of us might have gotten bitten by a snake . With much hope , we were ready.
The second part of this account shall follow in the next post.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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The beast was seen in various places all over the town for the last one month . It would strike after sun down and initially we thought that it's pattern was random. However , if experience teaches us anything , it is that nothing is random .
We employed our Garo ( hill tribal people) trackers to help us gauge the movements of this creature . These people all were blessed with the God given talent of tracking . Their skills were unrivalled and we could always rely on them to track any beast , large or small. There was an old well near the outskirts of the town.
A large number of boars , spotted deer and mouse deer would frequently be found in this area , ravaged to death ; the marks of the Royal Bengal tiger unmistakable . Hence , We were able to narrow down the area where the man eater would feed most frequently .
The town residents were extremely cautious at this time , keeping all their doors locked after sun down. We decided to prepare a trap here. We tied the old she goat to a banyan tree and climbed up a nearby tree which would allow us a good view over the area . We had two torch lights with us . Karim Suggested that we should attach the torch lights to the fore ends of our shot-guns to allow us to shoot better in the dark. We had a roll of Scotch tape inside one of the satchels and l used my Imperial Schrade pocket knife to cut us some pieces and soon the arrangement was set up accordingly . We ate some corned beef sandwiches and mutton liver samosas which our mothers had made us , and then got ready .
With our guns loaded , Karim and l took turns sleeping . One of us must always stay vigilant and watch the goat .
There are two more posts remaining.
 
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Kawshik Rahman

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At about an hour past midnight , l heard Karim's whisper to wake me up. It was a full moon night , but l did not see anything . Karim , every bit the superior hunter to me , pointed to the bushes . There were a pair of eyes visible in the bushes. Slowly , an out line of large form began to become more and more visible. It was the tiger. That old goat was braying but it's noises were becoming more and more intense. It could sense danger. The great cat began to make it's way towards the goat , silently . Karim and l had our shot-guns ready but the torch lights were still turned off , as we did not wish to alert the beast. When using a particular weapon on the animal , it was imperative that we had to be well aware of the limitations of our weapons. A 12 bore loaded with SG is a pitiful weapon against a Royal Bengal tiger at any distance greater than ten yards . However , at less than 10 yards , it can work excellently . The objective is to aim for the region of the tiger where the shoulder meets the neck . But he was a large
Royal Bengal tiger , the largest l had ever seen. Karim and l decided that l would discharge both barrels at the tiger together. If l failed to kill it , then Karim would fire both his barrels at the tiger too , which would either finish him off or give me time to reload . As the tiger passed under our tree , l fired both my barrels at the region where the tiger’s neck met his shoulder . That light bird gun recoiled heavily at the twin charges of SG being fired from it , hitting my shoulder savagely. However , those 24 pellets of SG had done their work. Our quarry lay dead , having been hit in the spine.
At the first sign of day light , people from all over the town had come to see the massive man eater. He weighed upwards of 500 pounds. My shot-gun , however had broken at the stock ‘s wrist part. Fortunately , my late girl friend , Antara who had come to see the man eater’s corpse had suggested that we could repair the stock of the gun at the carpenter’s shop in the town. It was eventually repaired with a reinforcement made from sheet brass. I gifted this skin to my late father ( whom readers can see in the first picture ) . Karim and l were proud of ourselves and Karim told me “ My next tiger will be bigger than yours “ in his brotherly , jestful manner. I merely replied “ Then , l will simply go shoot an even bigger one “.
The Epilogue will follow
 

Kawshik Rahman

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However , fate has a way of not letting us choose our own endings. That would end up being my final Royal Bengal Tiger. Karim would go on to shoot two more Royal Bengal Tigers . I shot other dangerous game like leopard and Gaur. In 1971 , Bangladesh’s war of Independence broke out. Antara was killed in the March 25th Buet University Genocide by the Pakistan army. I joined Bangladesh Mukti Bahini ( freedom force ) and and spent 6 months of the 9 month long war in active duty. After the war , l hoped that l had something to come back to , that would serve as a distraction or an outlet to feel better. However , Indira Gandhi’s government banned hunting with the Wild Life Protection Act - 1972. The vegetarian and anti hunting agenda had begun. In the old days , we were looked upon as heroes every time , we killed a man eating leopard or tiger. However , media falsely accused us , hunters of being sadistic towards animals and leading to animal extinction. After the act , poaching became rancid . Lakes were blown up with improvised explosives for fish , Royal Bengal tigers were killed with folidol or with locally made matchlock muzzleloaders . Corrupt wildlife department officials indiscriminately shot dozens of male , female and cub tigers from jeeps with spot lights and 7.62 millimeter automatic rifles . Yet , it was the Shikaris and licensed fire arms owners who took all the blame. One day , a group of so - called “ intellectuals “ broke into our family home and confiscated the two Royal Bengal tiger skins we had and also my elderly father’s I Hollis 12 bore side by side shot-gun. This beautiful family heirloom was destroyed and the tiger skins probably sold by the so-called animal lovers. This was the last straw. My family and l moved to Bangladesh where l would resume hunting again as a pastime , although nothing dangerous anymore ( I did shoot a final leopard in 1995 but that is another story ) . Father would pass away in 1984. Mother would follow , in 1990. Karim and l remained friends and kept hunting in Bangladesh until he passed away in his sleep in 2003 . The art of hunting these great cats now is , but a distant memory , existing only in pictures and books of an era lost forever.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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Please forgive me , if my English is not good , as it is my secondary language ( although l have been told that l speak it acceptably ). This is also the first time in my 77 years of age that l am writing any article .If people liked this account , then l will give a few more after a few more days. If there is a particular account which anyone might be interested in , or any particular pictures , please do not hesitate.
 
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Sika98k

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An uncle of mine was a District Veterinary Officer in the old Tanganyika. Predator control was a part of the job. He used a Lee Enfield 303 on his first lion. He gave that up very quickly, only FMJ ammunition was available. He switched to using a double barreled 12 bore loaded with SG afterwards with tremendous effect.
There was one occasion however that things didn’t work out according to plan ! Still he survived to relate tremendous tales of Africa to his nephew. I could speak some Swahili before I was 10.
Maybe this is what started giving me the bug for Africa.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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An uncle of mine was a District Veterinary Officer in the old Tanganyika. Predator control was a part of the job. He used a Lee Enfield 303 on his first lion. He gave that up very quickly, only FMJ ammunition was available. He switched to using a double barreled 12 bore loaded with SG afterwards with tremendous effect.
There was one occasion however that things didn’t work out according to plan ! Still he survived to relate tremendous tales of Africa to his nephew. I could speak some Swahili before I was 10.
Maybe this is what started giving me the bug for Africa.
Sika98k ,
Excellent. The .303 bore was a prohibited bore in our time. Only officials were allowed to own them. However , a gentleman named Mohiyuddin who used to work in the forest department prior to the war , was an extremely deadly marksman with his issued .303 bore Lee Enfield rifle and it’s magazine which held ten cartridges. He killed 6 rogue elephants with it using old British pattern military cordite ammunition with blunt metal enveloped heads . I actually saw him do this once with my own eyes and l have a picture of him shooting the rogue.
 

Adrian

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Hats off to you Sir for a tale well told and in better English than mine.
Thank you for sharing this with us and I hope to read more from you when your time permits.
Extraordinary times, adventures and experiences which are sadly gone so please keep them alive by recounting them here.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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Hats off to you Sir for a tale well told and in better English than mine.
Thank you for sharing this with us and I hope to read more from you when your time permits.
Extraordinary times, adventures and experiences which are sadly gone so please keep them alive by recounting them here.
Adrian
Thank you for your kind words. It makes me relieved to know that my grammar is passable.
 

Wyatt Smith

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I loved the story Mr. Rahman! It’s a shame you couldn’t have more appropriate weapons, but you did alright didn’t you. Also a good lesson in the conservation of wildlife can be taken from this article.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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I loved the story Mr. Rahman! It’s a shame you couldn’t have more appropriate weapons, but you did alright didn’t you. Also a good lesson in the conservation of wildlife can be taken from this article.
Wyatt Smith , l would do anything to have a central fire rifle during my days as a professional Shikari. I would have really liked to have a magnum .375 Holland and Holland calibre rifle ( preferably made by John Rigby and Co. as carried by one of my favorite clients ) .
Even a magnum .300 by Winchester would be adequate.
On a related subject, even though l have killed many dangerous animals with SG cartridge , l believe that it is utter foolishness and lack of desire for self preservation if someone attempts any of these things today with anything other than a good central fire rifle of at least some form of .300 calibre . Thank you for your interest.
 

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Kawshik, your grammar is just fine, I doubt if an English Teacher could find fault with it. Besides that, the incidents you are relating are so interesting that no one would pay any attention to grammatical slights.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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Kawshik, your grammar is just fine, I doubt if an English Teacher could find fault with it. Besides that, the incidents you are relating are so interesting that no one would pay any attention to grammatical slights.
Shootist 43
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am glad that you liked the account.
 

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Please forgive me , if my English is not good , as it is my secondary language ( although l have been told that l speak it acceptably ). This is also the first time in my 77 years of age that l am writing any article .If people liked this account , then l will give a few more after a few more days. If there is a particular account which anyone might be interested in , or any particular pictures , please do not hesitate.

You are more proficient in the English language than some with it as their mother tongue.

I appreciate your first effort and look forward to any more that you might share with us.

Thank you.
 

Kawshik Rahman

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You are more proficient in the English language than some with it as their mother tongue.

I appreciate your first effort and look forward to any more that you might share with us.

Thank you.
Brickburn
Thanky youfor your kind words. I am most grateful
 

flatwater bill

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That was an awesome write up of a hunt from another time....even another world. Sad to see that the people who profess love and unity robbed your father, but that is their way. This same sad tale is being repeated in many South American countries where the Jaguar is illegal to hunt, but is killed wantonly by poachers and Chinese.....Thanks for reporting.............would love to hear of a Gaur hunt sometime.....Bill
 

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Great tale! Thank you for posting!
 

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Please keep writing. Your experiences provide a window into a world fast disappearing into the mists of time and regrettable social change. How many other first hand witnesses still live who can speak to hunting the great game of India? Thank you.
 

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Please forgive me , if my English is not good , as it is my secondary language ( although l have been told that l speak it acceptably ). This is also the first time in my 77 years of age that l am writing any article .If people liked this account , then l will give a few more after a few more days. If there is a particular account which anyone might be interested in , or any particular pictures , please do not hesitate.

Dear Sir, mr Rahman,

Your narrative is excellent, to me giving a "Le spleen" of some past almost Victorian times with some of the typical British phrases.
I thank you for your time, to share such a wealthy experience with us.
 

Ridge Runner

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Thoroughly enjoyed your telling of this account of your last Royale.

Would most greatly appreciate more stories of your hunts of a by gone era of india.

Once again a first hand account from a person who can give prophecy of what will happen to the wildlife, should we as hunters and conservationist, fail to prevent the vegans ( HSUS, USPCA, etc) who want to stop all hunting.
 

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