One afternoon in May, a tiger lay cooling in the Ramganga River, deep in the heart of Jim Corbett National Park. A stunning locale, this park is set in the foothills of the Himalayas near the Nepal border. India’s southern Uttarakhand region has the highest amount of bengal tigers at 215, in the northernmost region of their national habitat.
Due to an unseasonable heatwave, the temperature was intense that afternoon, as we sat watching from the opposite river bank in the safari truck. Sweat trickled down my face and it seemed like just another tiger sighting, until a group of chital deer wandered nearby. The tiger spotted them, slowly getting into position. It crouched low in the water, waiting for them to approach. I was using my Canon R5 with my 100-500 lens and a 2x extender and also set up my iPhone 13 Pro Max on its own tripod to capture video.
Soon the lone chital deer realized its error in a tense moment of recognition, then turned and fled up the sandy hill.
A chase quickly ensued. I captured both the photos and the video. 70% of chases don’t end in a kill, still I felt fortunate just to witness this spectacle, much less capture it. It is important to set up cameras in anticipation of an event, testing settings like exposure, aperture and ISO before the action happens.
Video of the tiger chase:
Tiger Conservation in India
India is currently home to about 80 percent of the world’s wild tiger population, with the rest residing in Russia and Southeast Asia. Project Tiger is the country’s conservation effort started in 1973. The first tiger reserve was Jim Corbett National Park, now there are over 50 tiger reserves with about 3,000 tigers roaming free. Tiger tourism helps support conservation efforts like anti-poaching activity, maintaining habitat and resolving human-tiger conflict in nearby borderlands.