Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Quest For Tigers
Delving into India’s wilder side, expedition leaders Susi Allison-Lama and Butch Lama give their perspective from the field on where to find and photograph the Royal Bengal tiger
In India, tiger preservation is a mission of the government and local organizations that are fighting to help the tigers recover. Actual census numbers are in dispute (see the Census Note sidebar), but there’s little doubt that the situation is dire. Fortunately, organizations like Project Tiger and the National Tiger Conservation Authority have been empowered by the Indian government to meet the crisis head on and take action.
Where To Go
The simple answer: Go where the tigers are. The better answer: Go where you have a realistic chance of seeing them. Tigers are found throughout India in various types of habitats. The settings themselves can be spectacular even before tigers enter the frame. Habitats both sustain and obscure your intended subject; they also give clues to the tigers’ behavior and the likelihood of finding and photographing them.
Some habitats are vast; others are dense. Each condition is unique, some posing difficulties in sighting and photographing tigers. Your subject may be too far away for all but the longest lenses. The dense jungle may make it difficult to focus on a moving target and starve your camera of light. Still other habitats conceal the tigers completely, seen only if they want to be seen.
In the north and northeast, tigers reside in the Himalayan foothills and Terai belt, where rivers flow in abundance and landscapes are varied and sometimes dense. In Central India, tigers thrive in a variety of settings—wooded streams, meadows, bamboo groves and rocky outcrops. To the west, they survive in the semi-desert state of Rajasthan. In the south, their tropical habitat is woodlands surrounding vast lakes.
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