By Meera Bhardwaj

Obsession for CK

Tigers are the biggest predators on earth but when it comes to Calvin Klein (Obsession) perfume, they fall like ninepins.  Rolling on the ground in ecstasy, they rub their cheeks fervently, run fast, mark their area and quietly overcome their boredom when they are in confined spaces.

The experimental usage of this very expensive perfume either to lure ‘dangerous tigers’ in the wild for its capture or for enrichment purposes in the zoos – has been going on for some time in India as also a few zoos in the West. It seems big cats love perfumes but only the exclusive designer labels like the  CK (Obsession). Presently, talks are going on with a big Indian Zoo for usage of perfumes on tigers for enrichment purposes.

On leopards in wild, the perfume has been used for capturing once

It was Dr H S Prayag, Chief Wildlife Veterinarian and Assistant Prof, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU) who used this method during 2014-15 to successfully capture a big cat. He first tested CK by spraying it on the bait, cages and camera traps to capture a leopard in Mandya district of Karnataka. After this, CK was again used to lure a tiger to its bait in Guduluru, Tamil Nadu. These experimental efforts were basically structured on experiments done in the wild in Guatemala, South America to lure Jaguars but till date, had never been done on tigers in the wild.

CK was tried on Avni tigress to capture her.

Following the success of CK in these cases,  it was used to lure tigress Avni [T1] in 2018  which had allegedly killed 13 human beings but finally fell to bullets fired by a private hunter hired by the Maharashtra forest department. In fact, a scientific protocol had also been developed for luring the Pandharkawada tigress out of its hiding. Dr Prayag adds, “Although it fell to hunter’s bullets, the usage of CK on camera traps in this case clearly revealed the location of Avni in various locations. If we had followed the perfume method, the young mother tigress may have been alive today.”

Video credit Banham Zoo.

In UK (Banham zoo), Australia (Taronga zoo) and US (Bronx zoo), the usage of perfumes especially CK has done wonders and has proved to be a big hit with big cats. The Banham Zoo has recently appealed to people to donate their old perfumes and therefore, tweeted, “Our Big Cats want your old Purrrfume! The keepers have noticed that their stocks of old perfumes are running low and we need help…”

For the last 10 years, the usage and importance of perfumes has been felt in the enrichment of big cats which facilitates the animal to express its natural behavior when it is sprayed in their enclosures. They seem to like “CK obsession” which is a very expensive perfume that was imported for use in India. 

Dr Prayag informs, “The one that is available in India is not genuine and so, we had to import it. Spraying this perfume that has a special floral-fecal odor, the tigers roll on the ground and become very active and overcome their boredom in confined spaces. The usage of this perfume will in no way help poachers as they are well versed with other methods like snaring, laying traps and tracking it. The perfume does not work in certain conditions like rains as it becomes diluted and further, it is very very expensive.”

Domestic Cats too have responded well to CK perfume

Big and even domestic cats respond very positively to scents wherever they are sprayed be it on a log of wood or a bed or a camera trap or any other place. This is all because the perfume consists of civetone – albeit, a synthetic ingredient which is similar to a pheromone secreted by Civets. These are small carnivorous mammals that secrete a distinctive scent for marking their territory. When Civetone is used to make these perfumes, they create a musky and heady aroma attracting not only men and women but also big predators in the wild and captivity. 

Next time, when you visit a tiger reserve or a national park, think twice before spraying yourself liberally with the designer label CK perfume.

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