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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Wild Animals - The Tiger

( Originally Published 1894 )

The tiger is one of the most beautiful, but at the same time one of the most rapacious and destructive of the whole animal race. It is found in the warm climates of the East, especially in India and Siam. It so much resembles the cat, as almost to induce us to consider the latter a tiger in miniature. It lurks generally near a fountain, or on the brink of a river, to surprise such animals as come to quench their thirst; and like the lion bounds upon its prey, easily making a spring of twenty feet and upwards. When it has killed one animal it often attacks others, swallowing their blood for which it has an insatiable thirst in large draughts; for even when satisfied with food, it is not satiated with slaughter. The tiger is said by some to prefer human flesh to that of any other animal; and it is certain, that it does not, like many other beasts of prey, shun the presence of man, but has been even known on more than one occasion to spring upon a hunting party when seated at their refreshment, and carry off one of the number, rushing through the shrubs into the forest, and devouring the unfortunate victim at its leisure. The strength as well as the agility of this animal is remarkable; it carries off a deer with the greatest ease.

The tiger is ornamented with long streaks across its body. The ground colour is yellow, very deep on the back, but growing lighter towards the belly, where it softens to white, as it does also on the throat and the inside of the legs. The bars which cross the body from the back to the belly are of the most beautiful black, and the skin altogether is so extremely fine and glossy, that it is much esteemed, and sold at a high price in all the eastern countries, especially China. "The colouring of the tiger," says the Rev. J. G. Wood," is a good instance of the manner in which animals are protected by the similarity of their external appearance to the particular locality in which they reside. The stripes on the tiger's skin so exactly assimilate with the long jungle grass amongst which it lives, that it is impossible for unpractised eyes to discern the animal at all, even when a considerable portion of its body is exposed."

The ravages committed by tigers have often led to the organisation of hunting parties formed with a view to exterminate the more aggressive of the enemy. The following narrative of a tiger excursion at Doongal is from the "East India Government Gazette."

"There were five tigers killed by the party, besides one bear killed, and another wounded; a wolf, a hyena, a panther, a leopard, and some immense rock and cobra capella snakes. Among the occurrences during the excursion, some were of a peculiar and pathetic nature. The first happened to a poor Bunnia, or dealer, of the village of Doongal, who had been to the city of Hydrabad, to collect some money, and who was returning, after having gathered together a small sum, when on the way, a little beyond the cantonment of Secunderabad, he saw an armed Paeon seated, and apparently a traveller in the same direction. After mutual inquiries, the Paeon told the Bunnia he was going to the same place; and, as the Bunnia was glad to have somebody to accompany him, he gave him a part of his victuals; and, on their way, they mutually related their histories. The Bunnia innocently mentioned the object of his visit to the city, and the fact of his returning with the money he had collected; this immediately raised the avarice of the Paeon, who decided in his mind to kill the poor Bunnia in a. suitable place, and strip him of his money. They proceeded together, with this design in the mind of the Paeon, until they came to a place where the ravages of the tiger were notorious, and he prepared to kill the Bunnia ; and while he was struggling with him, and in the act of drawing his sword to slay him, a tiger sprang upon the Paeon, and carried him off, leaving his shield and sword, which the Bunnia carried to Doongal, as trophies of retributive justice in his favour. The next victim was the wife of a Bunjarra. They were resting under a tree, when a tiger sprang up, and seized the woman by the head. The husband, from mere impulse to save his wife, held her by the legs; and a struggle ensued between the tiger pulling her by the head, and the man by the legs, until the issue, which could not be doubted, when the tiger carried off the woman. The man seemed to be rather partial to his wife, and devoted himself to revenge her death,-forsook his cattle and property,-resigned them to his brother, and offered his services to be of the tiger-killing party, and strayed about the jungles, until he was heard of no more."

"A camel driver, who had been just married, was bringing home his bride, when a tiger followed, and kept them in view a great part of the road, for an opportunity to seize one of them. The bride having occasion to alight, was immediately pounced upon by the ferocious beast, and he scampered away with her in his mouth. A shepherd was taken by a young tiger, which was followed by the mother, a large tigress, and devoured at a distance of two miles; and a Bunnia, or dealer, from Bolarum, was seized returning from a fair. A woman, with an infant about a year old, was captured by a tiger; and the infant was found by the Puttal, or head of the village, who brought it to his house. Some of the Company's elephants that were going for forage were chased by a tiger, which was kept off by a spearman ; and a comical chase of :hem was made up to Doongal, the elephants running before the tiger, until they entered the village. It is said the lives lost by these tigers amounted to about three hundred persons in one year, within the range of seven villages; and the destruction of cattle, sheep, and goats, was said to be immense."

Captain Brown in his "Natural History of Animals " tells a thrilling story of an adventure of Lieutenant Collet, of the Bombay army, who having heard that a very large tiger had destroyed seven inhabitants of an adjacent village, resolved, with another officer, to attempt the destruction of the monster. Having ordered seven elephants, they went in quest of the animal, which they found sleeping beneath a bush. Roused by the noise of the elephants, he made a furious charge upon them, and Lieutenant Collet's elephant received him on her shoulder, the other six having turned about, and run off, notwithstanding the exertions of their riders. The elephant shook off the tiger, and Lieutenant Collet having fired two balls at him, he fell; but, again recovering himself, he made a spring at the lieutenant. Having missed his object, he seized the elephant by the hind leg, and, having received a kick from her, and another ball, he let go his hold, and fell a second time. Supposing that he was now disabled, Collet very rashly dismounted, with the resolution of killing him with his pistols; but the tiger, who had only been crouching to take another spring, flew upon the lieutenant, and caught him in his mouth. The strength and intrepidity of the lieutenant, however, did not forsake him: he immediately fired his pistol into the tiger's body, and, finding that this had no effect, disengaged his arms with all his force, and, directing the other pistol to his heart, he at last destroyed him, after receiving twenty-five severe wounds.

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