Born to be wild
This post is a place for me to give vent to my feelings about the massacre of animals from a private ‘zoo’ in Ohio in the USA. I’m disgusted that private citizens should be allowed to keep exotic animals and deeply saddened that some other way could not be found to keep these beautiful beasts alive. I’ve already on my blog expressed my love of tigers. This man had 18 Bengal tigers in his possession. Eighteen. All were shot dead. There are less than 2,000 Bengal tigers alive in the wild – which is where they belong, solitary hunters, top of the predator tree.There are more tigers in the US than there are in India, kept in private zoos and backyards. To me that’s appalling.
That picture up there is of a Sumatran tiger at the Singapore zoo. They are extinct in the wild. What a terrible thought to think that the Bengal tiger will only exist in zoos in our lifetime. Yes, the picture is © Greta van der Rol
This is an excerpt from my WIP. This is how tigers ought to live.
A low rumble and a cloud of dust attracted her. Across a meadow of yellowish grass backs rose and fell, here and there an antlered head poked above the galloping herd. Chittal; the smaller, spotted red deer.
“There.” Mahdur pointed at a tree on the other side of the river. “A big male.”
She peered following his arm. Beneath the tree the grass and rocks and shadows merged and coalesced. Yes. Amazing. If Mahdur hadn’t told her she wouldn’t have seen him, a tiger lying on the ground, the tip of his black and white striped tail twitching lazily. He totally ignored the elephant, just another animal of the forest. She leant over the howdah, balanced the lens and focussed, pure joy bubbling up from her belly. A wild tiger. What a rare and wonderful privilege, a life-long dream fulfilled. This was why she’d chosen India.
“What now?” she asked when she’d taken enough shots. They wouldn’t be wonderful. He lay in the shade, relaxed as a tabby in front of a fire.
“We wait. He waits. The deer are stupid. They will settle. Perhaps you will be seeing him hunt.”
Jagriti twitched her ears, stamped a foot, chewed on another mouthful of grass. On the meadow the dust clouds dispersed. The monkeys resumed their mutual grooming, the infants shrieked in play. A herd of sambal grazed, uncaring, not fifty meters away from where the tiger lay.
The tiger stood.
Sally held her breath.
He crept toward the unsuspecting prey, the stripes on his coat matching the pattern of light and shade in the long grass. His belly almost brushing the ground he placed each foot with care, not breaking a twig, hardly raising a murmur, not even a whisper in the wind. When a head was raised in the herd, he froze. The head dropped and he resumed his stalk.
Sally leaned over the howdah and focussed the camera, her finger poised on the shutter. The tiger’s muscles bunched. She was there with him, watching the prey. The deer tore at the grass, its ears twitching at buzzing insects. Now.
He moved suddenly, explosively, crashing through the undergrowth. The sambal scattered, the alarm calls rang in the trees. The doe he’d singled out swerved this way and that to avoid the clutching claws. The heat of the chase filled Sally, intent, eyes fixed on the darting doe and then the final surging leap as fangs sank into soft tissue, blood spurted, teeth ground on bone. Jagriti raised her trunk and trumpeted, jolting Sally and sending the jungle into hooting, squawking, shrieking uproar yet again.