By the lakeside, in a patch of forest near Tukum village, a drama plays out daily — a pick-up vehicle wheels in noisily and brakes to a halt. The men in the vehicle jump out and hurriedly wade into the lake to lay their fishing traps and recede quickly under the scorching Chandrapur sun.
The men, it seems, know they do not have much time. Less than 50 metres away, in the cool shade of a grove of trees, a sub-adult female lurks, biding time to enter the lake. The tigress is one of three animals that have struck fear in the hearts of people in the dozen-odd villages in Brahmapuri division of the territorial forest.
This morning, the fishermen seem both resigned to how close they are to a big cat as well as conscious of the threat from it. And that is how it is for the hundreds of families living in these villages since the past few months, as they balance their need to eke a living with their fear of being attacked by a tiger.