There wasn’t a high school girl in the late 80s or early 90s that didn’t love the smell of Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men. The ubiquitous scent, laced with notes of tangerine, grapefruit, and bergamot, was the go-to cologne for many a teenaged boy. Today, it’s seeing a huge resurgence in popularity . . . in the wildlife kingdom.
According to several sources, forest rangers in central India are using Obsession to lure a man-eating tiger out of the forest. This latest plan comes after a two-year-long effort to capture the beast, during which time she’s killed an estimated 13 people.
The 5-year-old tiger, known as T-1, is unique in her boldness and lack of fear. Although the big cats compete with humans for natural resources in the region, they rarely deliberately hunt people. In fact, according to The Telegraph, tigers accounted for only 92 human deaths in a three-year period between 2013 and 2017. Most of those deaths occurred when the animals were caught by surprise (which is happening more and more as their natural territory is encroached upon).
So why is T-1 deliberately intentionally seeking out people? Scientists say that on occasion a tiger will lose its natural fear of humans and see them as prey. And they believe that’s what happened with this particular female.
How Cologne Can Help
Animals are driven by their sense of smell far more than humans. And, indeed, just the tiniest whiff of pheromone can deliver a powerful message. So seems to be the case with not just Calvin Klein’s Obsession, but several different perfumes and colognes.
A 2010 study at the Bronx Zoo showed that big cats are attracted to certain synthetic odors. Scents tested included Chanel No. 5, Jovan Musk, and CK Obsession–but Obsession for Men was the clear winner. The favorite kept cheetahs intrigued for a full 11.1 minutes, almost a minute more than the runner-up, L’Air du Temps.
Two years later, researchers captured their first man-eating tiger using the cologne.
The reason they like it so much? Civetone. The popular perfume ingredient is actually a pheromone that’s secreted by the small wild cat (from a gland which is, unfortunately, located near its anus). The scent of the ingredient is referred to as a fecal floral–according to perfumer Mandy Aftel, “[It] smells like poop, really. Poop. It’s funk.”
When big cats catch a whiff, they go crazy.
Hope For T-1
Indian authorities hope that by using the cologne as bait, they will be able to lure the tiger (and her two cubs) out of the forest for a trap-and-relocate effort. However, odds aren’t in their favor.
For months now, authorities have been trying to trap the family of tigers, using animals such as goats and horses as bait. The New York Times has noted that the efforts have been in vain, as T-1 “rips into them” and eats them quickly before vanishing.
Let’s hope that for the sake of all involved, the cologne does the trick.