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Shere Khan

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Shere Khan
Sherekhan

Real Name

Shere Khan

First Appearance

Mowgli's Brothers (1893)

Created by

Rudyard Kipling

Origin

Despite being born with a crippled leg, and derisively nicknamed Lungri (The Lame One) by his own mother, Shere Khan was arrogant and regarded himself as the rightful lord of the jungle. It seemed, however, that the only creature who looked up to him was Tabaqui, the cowardly, despised jackal.

One of Shere Khan's failed attempts to hunt humans caused a human "cub" to stray from his parents. By the time Shere Khan caught up with the infant, it had already been adopted by the wolves Raksha and Father Wolf, who have named it Mowgli. Despite Shere Khan's bluster, Mowgli was accepted into Akela's wolf pack and protected by Bagheera and Baloo. Furious at losing his kill, the tiger swore that the cub would be his some day.

Over the next decade, while Mowgli was growing up, Shere Khan infiltrated the wolf pack by promising the younger wolves rich rewards once Akela was deposed. His plan came to a head when the young wolves maneuvered Akela into missing his kill, and the pack council met to expel him.

At the meeting, Shere Khan threatened that if the wolves did not give him Mowgli, he would take over their hunting territory. Having been warned by Bagheera, however, Mowgli attacked Shere Khan and his allies with a burning branch and drove them away. Akela left the pack to become a lone hunter. Mowgli returned to the human village but, swore that he would return one day with Shere Khan's skin.

After he reached the village, Mowgli was adopted by Messua and her husband and learned human ways. He also learned that the villagers had heard of the lame tiger, which had a price on its head but, believed it was lame because it was the reincarnation of a money-lender who was lamed in a riot. When Mowgli scoffed at these fanciful tales, the villagers decided to put him to work herding buffalo to keep him out of trouble. While he was doing so, he met his wolf friend, Grey Brother, who told him that Shere Khan was still planning to kill him. Grey Brother forced Tabaqui to tell him where and when Shere Khan was planning to strike, and then killed the jackal. With the help of Akela, Grey Brother and Mowgli trapped Shere Khan in a narrow canyon and stampeded the buffalo, which trampled him to death.

Mowgli then set out to fulfill his promise by skinning Shere Khan but, while he was doing so he was interrupted by the village's elderly chief hunter, Buldeo, who wanted the tiger's hide for the reward. Mowgli called Akela, who pinned Buldeo down while Mowgli finished removing the hide.

Mowgli assumed that this would be an end of the matter, since in the jungle quarrels were usually settled quickly but, when he returned to the village with the buffalo, the villagers drove him away, accusing him of witchcraft. Furious at being driven out of not one but, two 'packs', Mowgli left. That night, he fulfilled his pledge by laying Shere Khan's hide upon the wolf pack's council rock and then danced upon the hide singing of his anger and confusion.

Thus, Shere Khan's story came to an end but, the consequences of Mowgli's actions in defeating him continued to affect Mowgli and his adopted parents. Soon afterwards, Mowgli discovered that the villagers were preparing to burn Messua and her husband to death for harbouring a witch-boy and so he prepared to rescue them and take revenge on Buldeo and the village.

Public Domain Appearances

  • Mowgli's Brothers
  • How Fear Came
  • Tiger! Tiger!

See Also

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