Season 1, rerun

Crooked Big Cats: Why do we have human animal conflict?

There are so many stories of human animal conflict in India, where carnivores live in close proximity with people. On July 29, International Tiger Day, we attempt to answer this and other questions by talking to Nayanika Mathur, an anthropologist at Oxford University.

Nayanika has spent a decade in the trenches in the Himalayas interviewing people who’ve encountered leopards and other Big Cats. She follows in the footsteps of hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett, who wrote the Maneater of Kumaon in 1944 and chronicled attacks by Bengal tigers and leopards.

Nayanika discusses why some animals attack humans. Do animals have agency? What does the latest in animal behavior research tell us about these animals, and what does indigineous wisdom have to offer?

Time Markers (mins: sec)

  • 00:04 — Leopard attack
  • 02:00 — Human-animal conflict has become the norm
  • 3:45 — Introducing Nayanika Mathur
  • 4:08 — Nayanika collects big cat stories
  • 4:57 — stories from unknown voices are powerful
  • 5:54 – Story of a leopard watching a woman named Vimla
  • 7:50 — Why didn’t the leopard hurt Vimla?
  • 8:15 — animals have memory
  • 9:29 — science shows animals have memory
  • 11:45 — story of the man with one arm
  • 13:40 — how can we live more in balance with nature?

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Reading List

Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India. Mathur, Nayanika. Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 204 pp.

Telling the story of the pandemic. (2020, May 11). Somatosphere.

Mathur, N. ‘Nature is healing’: Why we need to be careful about how we tell the story of the pandemic. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from 



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