15 October 2020

Tiger


Above - the overall winning photograph in The Wildlife Photographer of The Year awards. It is a female Siberian tiger somewhere deep in the forests of eastern Russia. The picture was taken remotely by an extremely patient and resourceful cameraman called Sergey Gorshkov.

The tiger appears to be hugging the old tree - possibly leaving her scent on the bark. Perhaps she is marking her territory or signalling her availability to any fertile male tigers in the region.

Of course we are all painfully aware that in ten or twenty years time it may prove impossible to record a similar image as the Siberian tiger is a severely endangered species. There are perhaps only five hundred Siberian tigers left in the wild and with each passing year their territory is reduced. Like polar bears, rhinos, blue whales, river dolphins, eagles, hedgehogs, koalas, pandas, pangolins, harvest mice and elephants the odds are stacked against the Siberian tiger.

Sergey Gorshkov's wonderful image looks rather like an oil painting. Perhaps in the future that is the only way we will get to see new pictures of Siberian tigers in the wild - as oil paintings, displayed on walls alongside pictures of unicorns, dragons and griffins.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
                                                          - William Blake

22 comments:

  1. The shadows and light, and the contrast of the atripes...It really looks like the beginning g to a fairy tale!

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    1. Once upon a time there was a planet that seemed like The Garden of Eden - such was its beauty.

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    2. Exactly, Mr. P.

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  2. A depressingly true point.

    I don't really like the photo, not sure why but it bothers me. Maybe because we see a hug when in reality something different is going on. It's like the video of the cougar in Utah who was upset by a runner in her territory, bothering her cubs. Some people saw stalking, some people saw a mama cougar protecting her babies.

    A friend of ours was in Nepal and Thailand last year about this time and they came across tiger tracks. Apparently tigers do not smell good. Good to know.

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    1. Same sentiment about the photo here; the composition is unsettling - though, obviously, kudos to the photographer and his patience to "catch" the tiger.

      Since you mention cubs and "something else going on", and please don't laugh or do, for a moment I thought she was not so much hugging a tree (or sharpening her claws) as about to give birth. Holding on to something, anything, during the next wave of a contraction.

      U

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  3. Only little more than 500 alive in the world? As few as the legendary snow leopard, which the late Peter Matthieson set out to find in his wonderful book.

    Is it true the Chinese slaughtered these sublime animals because they thought their bodies contained aphrodisiac properties? The only sick animal is man.

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    Replies
    1. There was balance in the animal kingdom. Predators and prey. That balance was established over millions of years and then human beings came along - their numbers mushrooming uncontrollably.

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    2. The time-span is immense as Richard Dawkins says, which is why the young earth creationists are unable to grasp natural selection. Without wishing to idealise native Americans (their constant tribal wars) they were in balance with the eco-system. Until white settlers appeared - we have all seen those photos of the bison slaughtered on the Great Plains, left to rot.

      The needless tragedy of a species going extinct, to answer Ursula's point, is that it is a result of degradation of environment; we suffer as a species too. And something irreplaceable has gone.

      In his new book *Wintering - A Season With Geese*, Stephen Rutt writes: *Geese are herbivores, like avian cattle, but they need the right length and sort of grassland. Each species has a bill tailored for what they eat ... Barnacle geese can peck 230 times a minute ... *

      The new balance, as Meike puts it, will mean children never seeing the Siberian tiger on a BBC wildlife documentary or hearing a nightingale in a wood on a summer's night. As PJ Kavanagh once said: *We will only have ourselves to look at. Will we like what we see?*

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  4. That photo is beyond gorgeous. What a beautiful cat and how privileged I feel to see it in her natural habitat. It breaks my heart to think of the possible future of the Siberian tigers and I hope that future can be greatly improved.

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    1. Let's keep our fingers tightly crossed and pray.

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  5. This won't make me popular. However, and it's no more than a thought, if an uncomfortable one: What's wrong with species going extinct? The tiger and the hedgehog won't know about it. Neither do they care. The irony that we, humans, who contribute to their extinction then lament the "loss". Live with it. Live with the outfall of OUR existence. The animal world is not one large zoo for humans to be entertained.

    To end on an even happier note: Let's not be precious. We'll go the same way one day. The question: Does a tree, falling in the forest, make a sound even if there is no one (human) there to hear it, to evaluate it, to enjoy it? We (humans) take ourselves too seriously; our sense of entitlement I sometimes do find vaguely distasteful. And what's a mosquito ever done to you?

    U

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  6. I read that Prince George was upset by the programme on animals becoming extinct, aren't we all.
    If species going extinct was a natural thing I could accept it but we humans are the main cause of their decline.
    Greed gets in the way of maintaining balance.
    Briony
    x

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  7. I admire anyone who can endure whatever it takes "only" to take a picture of an animal in the wild - I would have neither the patience (nor the time or money to be away from my job for so long, unless of course this WAS my job) nor the inclination to sit still for hours, days, weeks... maybe months.
    AND (as I assume) not disturbing the natural environment by being merely present there - not trying to capture or shoot the animal other than with the camera, not claiming that part of the forst for themselves, not leaving litter around and so on.
    It has already been said in comments and replies to comments here; the balance that nature has in itself (yes, species becoming extinct are part of it, too) has been severely upset by our species. One wonders whether that is the "new" balance.

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  8. The tiger in the picture is obviously in despair after it's beloved Hull City were thrashed in the bustling Lancashire fishing port called Fleetwood last Friday.

    If you look in my blog search and type Siberian Tiger. You will see a photo of one we took at Warsaw Zoo.

    Makes you wonder if zoo's and safari parks are the only safe place for them to live?

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  9. Is she rubbing her head against the tree like domestic cats do? It's striking how behaviourally similar all cat species are.
    There are so many astonishing images to choose from these days, and we can store them all on a grain of sand.

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  10. Tyger, tyger burning bright.

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  11. What an interesting photo. Looks like she's scratching an itch.

    Did you read Prince William's comment that he watched Attenborough's wildlife documentaries with his kids, but they had to turn off the one about extinction because it was "too sad"? And I'm sure it was. I can't bring myself to watch Attenborough's shows, as beautiful as I'm sure they are. They would just depress the heck out of me.

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    1. I can't watch them either, they give me nightmares. Any portrayal of cruelty to animals I find too upsetting. I still have nightmares about a Christmas TV advert for the Dogs Trust of a couple of years ago. It showed a man leaving his dog tied to a fence and driving away. The dog whimpered and sat down the way dogs do when they're watching and waiting for their owners to come back. Heartbreaking.

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  12. That is a bitter sweet situation. Great photo but a looming catastrophe.

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  13. Looking closely at the photo, I, too feel there is something "unsettling" about the scene. YP, you mentioned the word "appears" to be hugging the tree. It seems to me that unless there is a huge hole in the trunk, the tiger is merely placing a paw against it. It's not really clear if are two trunks - it looks like one.
    So tragic that these beautiful creatures will become extinct - why do we always wake up to the fact too late to do anything about it?

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  14. It is a beautiful moment but just a fraction of the time for this tiger. Perhaps we should rejoice with it in its tactile pleasure. No matter how many protests I sign it makes no difference and don't ever get me started on so called hunters as they display their trophies. Even giraffes are targets now.

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