Recently at #Save-the-tiger we held a contest with the theme of examining just what aspect of the tiger makes him such a beloved creature around the world. We had a lot of wonderful entries, and our team of judges had a difficult go of picking the winner!
The first place winner was with her beautiful entry here:
If you have the opportunity, please check out the rest of *Kodriak's fantastic gallery:
Our other wonderful entries:
And, finally, a few of my recent favourite tiger pictures.
Just beautiful! I watched National Geographic's Big Cat Week over the holidays, and then took a moment to look up the status of the different wild cats--there are around 20,000 wild animals each for leopards, jaguars, and lions, 10,000 for cheetahs, and less than 4,000 wild tigers. I couldn't believe how few that was...and I don't think many people realize what dire straits they're in. I'm donating, but it just feels like we need to be doing so much more...
Also, have you ever read anything by Jim Corbett? If you love tigers, I think his works are a must. His first book, and probably the best one to start with, is "Man-Eaters of Kumaon." Corbett was a turn-of-the-century Brit who was born and lived his life in northern India. In his spare time he hunted rogue man-eating tigers and leopards, putting down more than thirty who had killed about 1,200 people all told.
...So yes, his books are about hunting tigers, and that's really hard to read sometimes. But what really makes him stand out is his respect for them--you can tell how much he loved and admired tigers--and his humility and relationship with the poor of India. He never accepted bounties on the tigers he killed, but did it to protect the people. While he hunted for sport in his younger days, when he realized what a devastating toll over-hunting was having on them, he became a conservationist and photographer instead. He helped found the first national park in India, which was renamed for him after his death. I think he was possibly the most incredible person to have ever lived, and his knowledge of the jungle is both incredibly intimate and incredibly vast. He could distinguish individual tigers from their pawprints, he hunted alone and at night in the jungle, he was an unbelievable marksman, he knew, understood, and could mimic the call of every bird and animal in India, he survived bouts of malaria and a close scrape with leprosy, and once he called a man-eating tiger to him. One time he even stopped a charging boar with his bare hand. I'm not kidding, the man was incredible, lucky, and probably also magic.
Soooo yeah, I really can't tell you how much reading his work has affected me. I never realized somebody could ever know that much about tigers, about their habits and their lives. It makes me terribly sad to think that there is probably no-one alive who knows half of what he knew, and it breaks my heart to think that those secrets may never be re-discovered because tigers are now so scarce. But if you want to read a book by someone who loved and understood tigers on a level that may never be reached again, and learn a whole lot about them on the way, you really should check out Corbett. :3
I'm really sorry for the super late reply! But I wanted to make sure that I actually had the time to sit down and read your comment. Ha ha, I have been so busy between work and home lately that I usually only get a little stretch of time here and there to log in and check messages! It's mostly a good thing to have an active life outside of the 'net, but I always a little bad about neglecting my friends here.
I wish that I had NatGeo's channel in my area! It's a premium channel here, so we don't have it at the moment. However, I did get my grubby mitts on last month's NatGeo magazine issue, so I did at least get a sampling of current information on big cats... including a terribly sad article on wild tiger populations. Not gonna lie, one of the photos actually made me tear up. It was a photo of a child in front of a zoo enclosure where a tiger had been killed by poachers that snuck in during the night. The child was holding a picture of the dead tiger. Very heart-breaking! And you are correct about current tiger numbers, they are startling to hear if you don't regularly keep up with conservation news. There are more tigers in captivity in the United States than there are in the wild right now. That's one of the reasons why I support the WWF's Tiger Projects and people like *HeWhoWalksWithTigers whenever I can.
Although I am familiar with Corbett (the Indochinese tiger is even named after him), I actually haven't read any of his books! I'm definitely going to put him on my reading list now, though, because your descriptions of his books sound amazing. I love learning more about tigers! And I have to say, I'm pretty impressed by all of the things that you mention he has done... strangely, though, I think his skill in mimicking animal noises is what I'm most impressed by out of all of those things! That takes some sort of innate talent, I think.
As I haven't read any of Corbett's work (although I definitely intend to now), another book that I might suggest if you like tigers is "The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival" by John Valliant... although you may have read it already! The story mainly revolves around the search for one man-eating cat, but also discusses the habits and history of the Amur tiger and the current and former social climate in Primorya and Russia in general. I think that was one of the parts that interested me the most, how the book delved not only into tigers but also into human society in the region as well. The two are pretty much entwined when talking about conservation, but it's so rare to see someone go in-depth into what is happening on the human front as well, beyond just discussing how terrible poaching is.
Anyway, thank you so much for the recommendation! I will check for "Man-Eaters of Kumaon" next time I visit the library. If they don't have it, I will order it through our local bookstore chain... I may end up just doing that anyway, because I'm sure I will want it for my collection.
Hey! I'm so sorry for taking such an embarrassingly long time to reply to this comment. I wanted to wait until after I had read "The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival" so I could talk to you about it properly, and then real life college hit and I didn't get a chance to read it for the longest time. Thank you so much for the recommendation! I think what surprised me most was the *contrast* between hunting a tiger in Russia and hunting a tiger in India. Corbett just interacts with the animals and goes about hunting a man-eater so differently. I think I was also honestly kind of horrified by what life in Primorya and Russia in general is like--while Corbett certainly encountered more than his fair share of abject poverty in his writings, there's also a sense of good-natured well-being, community ties, and faith that keeps everything together. With Valliant's book...yeesh. Misery cold misery. It's unbelievable to think of an animal as incredible and rare as a tiger linking Russia to India, and that something as primal as fear of a tiger can be the same in both places, and yet so, so different.
As for Corbett, did you ever get a chance to read any of his works? I actually just finished "The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag," the last of his books I had yet to read, and I just have to reiterate how much this man's philosophy has changed my outlook on life.
Like you said, the human element really brings something unique to the story; I love all the history and political issues that Valliant brings in to really show you what life is like, and how a tiger fits into all that. That's also a major part of the reason I love Jim Corbett; he goes to great lengths to describe the impact the man-eaters he hunted were having on the people of "our hills," and he relates all kinds of stories about individuals he met or that were told to him. He was so incredibly humble, and he honestly loved and respected the poor of India--and, best of all, they loved him back.
And for the cats themselves...it really makes you think about animal intelligence and the line between "man and beast," as it were. I think Corbett always had a much deeper connection with tigers than leopards, but this last book...the Rudraprayag leopard was a man-eater for 8 years before Corbett finally got it, and it took him a full year of hardcore tracking. He talks about how becoming a man-eater changes an animal, makes it smarter, makes it start to think more like a person...and Corbett could think like a cat. So you have this incredibly smart, canny leopard hunting Corbett while Corbett immerses himself in the jungle to hunt the leopard. It can get hard to tell who's after who; it honestly feels like they're thinking on the same level.
And then there's the incredibly sappy "AWWWWW" moments that he'll throw out, where I melt all over my chair. Like when he's sitting up over the body of a little boy killed by the leopard, hoping to get a shot, lying on an open deck and covered by hay, after weathering a lightning storm...and he hears pawsteps in the straw, and feels fur brush his leg...and a WET KITTEN crawls down his shirt and goes to sleep. FFFFFFF EXCUSE ME ALL MY FEELS.
these are simply my
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More