A Bengal Tiger in the wild. Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India. January 2008.
We were very lucky to see a tiger on our second safari in Ranthambhore National Park. The tiger was harder to see than I expected when he was walking in the woods. Fortunately he came out and walked towards us. The tiger was big and seemed interested in Keith’s red jacket. He looked right at us standing in the open jeep, then sauntered directly by us. We were able to follow him for a while.
For the rest of our time in India we mostly stayed quiet about seeing the tiger. It seemed the polite thing to do. Most people we met were not lucky enough to see one of the two dozen or so tigers in the 150 square miles. It is a long drive to and from the park from other cities of interest. Then you need a couple nights lodging, and to book separate jeeps and drivers for inside the park. It is an investment of time and money and certainly it is disappointing not to see what you hoped to. We know this feeling having several times missed the Northern Lights and mount Fuji.
This is the only tiger I have ever seen in the wild. I hope to look for them one day in Bangladesh.
Today there are 3900 tigers in the wild. This is an improvement from 2010 when the estimation was 3200. About 70% of wild tigers are in India. Smaller numbers can be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and a few in China, Russia, Myanmar. No wild tigers live in Africa.
One of the most surprising aspects of seeing a tiger was realizing how well orange does camouflage in this environment.