Shooting Tigers – the photographers blog Number Two with Michael Vickers

  • March 24, 2015

 

About 15 years ago, after my first visit to the tiger reserves in India, I became very interested in tiger conservation and photography.  This has now become a passion for me and each year I am fortunate enough to be able to travel to India. Many times I have been asked if I have ever been frightened and nervous in the company of these large cats.  I have had many interesting and ‘close encounters’ during my trips into the forests to catch up with the tigers I have come to know.  Most of the  tigers have become habituated to the presence of vehicles passing along the tracks which stop for tourists desperate to see and photograph a wild tiger.  At times I have also hired an elephant to take me deep into the forest where the tiger is king. During one such occasion in Bandhavgarh tiger reserve, I was on a elephant tracking a tigress and her two sub-adult male cubs to high ground where eventually the tiger family disappeared into a cave to avoid the heat of the day.  The mahout managed to persuade his elephant to wait outside the cave in the hope that the tigers would re-appear but during this time the elephant reached up with its trunk and tore off a small branch from an overhanging tree.  The noise of the branch snapping disturbed the two young male tigers who left the cave to investigate.  They manoeuvred themselves behind my elephant and being very curious, began to play with its tail! Generally speaking elephants do not like tigers and as we were positioned on a ledge outside the cave with the possibility of our elephant falling backwards down the cliff edge, we had to shout loudly at the tigers in an effort to move them off.  At this point both cats decided to jump about 4 meters parallel with the elephant and onto a ledge peered down at us. Thankfully there they rested together for about 10 minutes while studying us!  A rather anxious time, however, I have to say that it allowed me to take some interesting close up shots of the two very handsome ‘boys’.

On another occasion at Ranthambhore tiger reserve we were driving up a winding track alongside a deep gorge. As my jeep approached one of the many twists and turns, a tigress, accompanied by her three female cubs, was walking towards us. Instantly we asked the driver to carefully reverse his vehicle allowing the family to continue their downward journey. This was a wonderful opportunity that allowed me to take many photographs of the family as they reappeared from behind each bend of the track.  Eventually they made their way down into the gorge where they disappeared from view.

I have been a long time supporter of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Tiger Time. In my view the team are truly dedicated and work tirelessly in order to save the remaining wild tiger population of Asia and it is a pleasure to know that the pictures I take can make such an impact on raising awareness for this most amazing of big cats.

Michael J Vickers

Find out more about Michael and view his stunning work at www.tigersintheforest.co.uk

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