In tracking a tiger, it seems like the usual methods of tranquilizer darts, surveillance, and booby traps would do the trick. But officials in central India are resorting to an entirely different method to try to trap a vicious man-eating tiger: Calvin Klein Obsession cologne.
Forest rangers in India have been trying to locate a female tiger known as T-1 who is suspected of killing 13 people in or near the town of Pandharkawada, the New York Times reports. T-1 has dragged away several villagers by the neck, leaving survivors panicked. Many are avoiding their fields and locking their doors at night, which they didn't used to do, the paper reports.
Rangers have had hundreds of soldiers comb the jungle and have used bulldozers to clear certain areas, as well as sharpshooters, jeeps, camera traps, a thermal-imagery drone, and five elephants in an attempt to surround the tiger and dart her - nothing has worked. In the past few months, T-1 has been spotted just a few times. Officials have used horses to draw her out, but she's captured them, eaten into them quickly, and sprinted away fast. Rangers managed to dart her only once, but it didn't stick.
So … they plan to use Calvin Klein Obsession cologne. "I know, it's really funny," Sunil Limaye, one of the top forestry officials directing the tiger hunt, told the New York Times. "But what are we going to do?"
The scent contains civetone, a compound originally derived from the scent glands of a civet (a weasel-like creature). It's often made synthetically and used in cologne. And, apparently, tigers love it.
This move has been used on big cats before: Field biologists have used Calvin Klein Obsession to lure jaguars into camera traps in the past, according to Scientific American.
Civetones are a type of pheromone, which is a "hormone that's excreted outside the body," Jamie Alan, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "Their effect is a little more well understood in animals than humans," she says. "Animals are probably more sensitive to them than we are because they have a stronger sense of smell."
These hormones can cause "anything from sexual attraction to a smell that says 'stay out of my area,'" Alan says. And, in the case of civetones, it seems that attraction is the name of the game. That can lure in a cat and make it want to luxuriate in the scent.
T-1's attempted capture has gone all the way to India's Supreme Court, where judges ruled that officials should try their best to capture the tiger and move her to a wildlife refuge or zoo. Failing that, she can be killed.
Officials plan to spray Calvin Klein Obsession near camera traps to try to lure T-1 to a spot where they can surround and tranquilize her. But, if they spot her too far away, a sharpshooter may be used to take her down.