Pinky Baiga slowly pulls back the white scarf that covers her dark hair. Her eyes are cautious, and her anguish is palpable: There are deep gashes across her scalp, ragged pink lines extending from forehead to crown. Two months ago, Pinky was mauled by a sloth bear.
The teenager had been gathering firewood with her parents in a forest near Bandhavgarh National Park, in central India. When she turned a corner, wood balanced on her head, she came face to face with a sloth bear. The frightened animal attacked and nearly scalped her before running off. She received stitches to close her wounds and spent 10 days in the district hospital recovering.
As Pinky tells her story, dusk settles. Outside the