People Keep Tigers from Sneaking Up on Them by Wearing Backward Masks
For years, the people of the Ganges Delta in India have been trying to coexist with the Bengal tigers that live near the area. This is not an easy task when you're living next door to the largest population of wild tigers in the world, who over the years have come to discover that human beings are ludicrously easy to kill and eat.
People routinely enter the Tiger Zone to fish, gather food, and collect wood. The tigers then ambush the almighty bejeebus out of them, even going so far as to swim out into the water to surprise fishermen on their freaking boats, a tactic typically reserved for sharks, alligators, and sea monsters.
"Just stay still, Patrick. They'll think you're a log."
At one point in the mid-1980s, about 60 villagers in the Ganges were being killed by tigers every year. It was becoming far too dangerous to head into the jungle, but the people had no choice -- if they didn't, their livelihood would dry up. So what could they do?
Realistically, carrying weapons wouldn't help much, because 9 times out of 10 the tiger is going to burst out of a thicket or come blazing out of a treetop like a murderous hailstorm, giving you about half a second to fire a gun before it eats your head. Many of the victims had knives or woodcutting axes already, and those didn't do them any good. So the people tried making human dummies laced with live electrical wires to goad the tigers into attacking, the idea being that the electric shock would train the animals to leave people alone. That seemed to work somewhat, but wasn't making an appreciable dent in tiger-related fatalities.
"Are we being mocked? Because I feel like we're being mocked."
Then, a student at the Science Club of Calcutta pointed out, "Hey, did anyone else notice that tigers only attack when they think you aren't looking? What if we painted eyes on the backs of our heads, has anybody tried that yet?"
No, nobody had.
The Absurd Solution:
People venturing into the jungle began wearing masks on the backs of their heads to trick the tigers, and the effect was pretty incredible -- nobody wearing a mask was attacked by a tiger for the next three years. In fact, the only people killed by tigers in that time period were those who either flat-out refused to wear a mask or had taken their masks off while still in Tigeropolis. It is unclear whether the tigers were more confused by the seemingly two-faced Bengali people or the sudden appearance of Caucasian elf princes in their homeland.
AP via Thestar.com
Or possibly both.
Tigers are pretty sharp, however, and as the years have passed the effectiveness of the masks has dropped a bit below 100 percent. Still, it is rare that anyone ventures into the jungle without one, because as the saying goes, "'Tis better to be safe than pinned beneath the crushing jaws of a howling slaybeast."
"Man, these dudes never turn around. And they all look the same. That's too creepy for me, I'm going back to eating fish."
Erik Germ is the owner of Hugefrigginarms.com and would absolutely love it if you followed him on Twitter.