Describing a Tiger
This post describes a tiger in a rainforest in three levels. Level 1 is for beginners, Level 3 is for intermediate learners and Level 5 is for advanced English speakers. It uses the five senses as much as possible. For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title or the images below. It comes with a spelling workbook as well.
Enough of that, however, and let us talk about tigers. At the bottom of the post are 20 interesting facts about tigers (largest tiger, worst man eaters, greatest tiger hunters etc.). First of all, let me clear something up right now. A tiger would kick a lion’s butt in a fight. I know this because I researched it and found out that the Roman civilians watching fights in the Coliseum tended to bet on the tiger and usually won. As regards a bear, you will have to read the rest of the post. Happy hunting……….
TIGER: LEVEL 1
|glowing, amber eyes||almost invisible||roared/growled||large and heavy head|
|rippling muscles||ghost silent||fierce and savage||razor sharp teeth|
|flicked his tail||leaped at me||striped fur||Bengal tiger|
|deadly movements||paws like saucers||top predator||powerful legs|
|prowling/creeping||flame and coal colour||powerful/fearless||I felt fear/terror|
1. A tiger has glowing, amber eyes and he is scary.
2. His muscles ripple when he walks.
3. He usually flicks his tail before he leaps at you.
4. His movements are deadly and he prowls the jungle at night. He sometimes hunts by day.
5. He is almost invisible because of his striped fur, which blends in with the trees.
6. He is as silent as a ghost and although his paws are as big as saucers, he cannot be heard.
7. His fur is a flame-and–coal mix and he is powerful and fearless.
8. Because of his razor sharp teeth and powerful legs, he is the top predator in the jungle.
9. He has a large and heavy head and his roars and growls are terrifying.
10. If you heard him up close, you would know the meaning of fear and terror.
A TIGER HUNTING A DEER: LEVEL 3
|glittering, feline eyes||melted into shadows||snarled/grunted||lumpy, blocky head|
|a fluid power||phantom silent||fearsome/pitiless||carnivorous incisors|
|swished his tail||pounced at me||dappled coat||Siberian tiger|
|padded silently||claws like thorns||alpha animal||outsized paws|
|skulking/lurking||sunrise orangebat black stripes||terrifyingmajestic||I was quivering/trembling|
The tigress is a truly majestic creature. She is the alpha animal in the jungle and for good reason. She moves with a fluid grace that no other animal can match. Padding silently, she can creep up on any creature and kill them with a single swipe of her outsized paws. Once those thorn shaped claws rip at you, it is all but over. She is phantom silent and melts into the bush like molten gold into a cast. When she finds a good ambush site, she lurks in the shadows. Then she waits for prey to pass, observing everything with her glittering, feline eyes. When her target appears, she pounces with a coiled energy that is both fearsome and pitiless.
That is why many explorers and adventurers speak of having fear in the jungle. It is a vast supermarket of food and man-meat is on the menu also. The saw-toothed leaves of the jungle drip with rain and menace alike.
Only once have I seen a tiger hunt. It was in India a few summers back and I had a bird’s eye view from the back of an elephant. I saw the tigress skulking up towards a sambar deer. Her dappled coat was sunrise-orange with bat-black stripes. She had a lumpy, blocky head with large, carnivorous incisors. I feared for the deer when she swished her tail. It was a sign she was going to attack and she did. With a mighty leap, she sprung upon the shellshocked deer. A snarl, a rip, a grunt of satisfaction and it was over. I was just glad it wasn’t me.
A TIGER IN A RAINFOREST: LEVEL 5
|smouldering, chatoyant eyes||shadowed camouflage||rumbling/bellowing||convex head|
|sinewy strength||wraith silent/ phantasmic||feral and implacable||giant, vampirish fangs|
|whisked his tail||sprang with a coiled energy||transverse stripes||Indochinese tiger|
|a balletic grace||retractile claws||apex predator||mighty forelimbs|
|stalking/treading||brass-brilliant fur/like burnished copper||dauntless/indomitablecourage||sense of dreadhad a heartquake|
The beauty or the beast? It is hard to tell which is which sometimes, the tiger or the rainforest.
I have walked through jungles where the sun followed us like a lodestar through the tangled heads of the trees. It burned with a blinding exquisiteness that made you shield your eyes and bless your existence. The light was lustrous in the open spaces and seemed undistilled from heaven to earth in the lonely ones. It can seem like a laser show at times as gem clear beams filter through the trees. The warmth of it settles over your face like a silken mask and life is a golden joy. That is the thing about the seraph-light of the jungle; it can sweep down like the handloom of the gods one moment, pure and clear and long of line. Then the day lengthens and shadow and fear takes over. Pure, unadulterated fear.
I have walked through jungles where the witch-light of the shadows can unman you. The trees there were Triassic-tall with heads as thick as megaflora. They loomed over everything, silent and brooding in their leafy reverie. Their boughs were as thick as barrels and reached upwards like the despairing limbs of the damned. Hanging from them were goatees of moss, mangrove-green and swishing with a lazy spite. Pools of shadow formed under those trees and fevered eyes, glazed with hunger, lurked in the carnal-black darkness. I have seen webs which shimmered like the Star of David catching man and beast unawares at night. To see a nest of Godzilla sized spiders scurry out and become bloated from their plunder is to see too much. All the while, an amphitheatre of sounds follows you through such jungles. You have never heard such a maddening cocktail of whoops, squawks, screeches and wails. Nor would you wish to.
I have walked through jungles where the rain came down in an unrelenting torrent for weeks on end. This wasn’t the dinging, pinging rain that you might read about in a storybook. This was biblical rain. You may, quite rightly, harrumph; that rains and rainforests are expected to be bedfellows and to think otherwise is balderdash. Bah humbug, you might remark, and fiddlesticks too. Ah, but you have never walked through a jungle quite like this. This was Noahs-Ark-type rain, a cataclysm of water that fell upon us like the fountain of the gods had overflowed. When it was at its most ardent, it hammered at the waxy ferns like lunatics with pencils. When it was quieter, it sounded like a hose was sprinkling silver nails onto the plants instead of water. In between, it was like walking in a plunking, thumping asylum of sound designed to unhinge you. Our clothes stuck to us like barnacles and grated at us just as much. Our food was wet, our kindling was wet and our spirits were sunken. So much so that one of our party got to his knees, raised his arms aloft and prayed to the heavens to be turned into a dolphin and have done with it. His prayers must have been answered as the rain stopped Forrest-Gumpian-style and was not seen again. When it had finished, the jungle became a paradise on earth.
Yes. I have walked through many jungles but I have only run through one. I will never forget that morning. The jungle had a distinctive smell after a spell of heavy rain. It was a jasmine-and-gingerbread fragrance, a floral fragrance mixed with the loamy must of rotting logs. The mist drifted around the trees in phantasmal veils, slowly burning away. The light filtered through the mist with a spectral aura and we came upon a waterfall of sumptuous size and beauty. We decided to camp there as it had an Arcadian allure rare in the modern world. The infinity pool was as clear as a diamond and as polished as a lady’s mirror. A great chute of water fed this pool and the spray it threw up burned with an ornamental light when the sunbeams caught it. The water tasted seltzer fresh and some of our party went for a swim in the huge pool. Every plant with barb, hook and thorn had tried to rip at us that day and it was good to wash away our cares. The half-light of dusk had not yet arrived and we felt safe. The jungle does not care for the moods of man, however, as we were about to find out.
It started as a rumbling which we were sure was the baritone hum of the waterfall. She must have been stalking us for a while, treading behind us as silent as a wraith. I saw her first and was mesmerised. Her great, convex head poked through a bush on a ridge high above us. A pair of smouldering, chatoyant eyes scanned the party, trying to establish which among us was the easiest of prey. They were feral of gaze and implacable in their hatred of us, two bright orbs of doubloon-gold. She padded out of the vegetation with a balletic grace, shoulders bunched and muscles rippling. Her transverse stripes blended perfectly into her surroundings, breaking up her silhouette. I could see why she was the jungle’s apex predator when she flashed her giant, vampirish fangs at me. She looked deep into my soul, saw the fear, whisked her tail and sprang at me from her lofty perch.
I can tell you now, reader, you have never experienced the terror of a tigress putting you down on her menu of the day. Time slowed down and curiously, as if from a great distance, I admired her savage grandeur as she plunged down. Her colours seemed to ignite in the light, a combustible mix of ember-orange and gunpowder-black. Her mighty forelimbs descended upon me and I could see her retractile claws emerge from their furry pouches. I had a heartquake then and the flight-or-fight response kicked in. I flew. I rolled to one side and got a raking slash down my left arm for my troubles. I was only saved because her ambush height had been so great, she needed time to absorb the impact on her legs. I ran towards the camp screaming at the top of my voice. I hoped and prayed the guards were as alert as they claimed to be. Behind me, I could hear the huffing breath of the tiger come closer and then two shots rang out, followed by a volley of gunfire. I felt a clawed foot slashing my back and then it slipped away. I fell to the ground and my entire body went into convulsions. The adrenaline rush was over and my body was charging me for the price. The tigress lay dead behind me. That was my encounter with a tiger and it is one I never wish to see repeated.
I no longer see the jungle as a place of mist and mystique. I see danger lurking everywhere and the forest’s canopy seems to press down on top of me in a suffocating way. Although I still admire tigers, their burnished-copper coat is not one I wish to see again anytime soon.
1. A tiger can jump 16 feet up from a standing position.
2. He can leap 33 feet (and possibly a lot more) while on the run.
3. A tiger can hurdle a double-decker bus lengthways (if he chooses to do so!).
4. The worst man eater was the Champarat tiger who killed 436 recorded victims in Nepal and India. Jim Corbett, a famous hunter, shot it dead in 1907.
5. The biggest tiger ever recorded in the wild was 12 foot long and weighed 845lbs. It was a Siberian tiger.
6. The biggest Bengal tiger recorded was 11 feet long and weighed 857lbs.
7. There are six species of tiger alive today: Siberian, South China, Indochinese, Malayan, Sumatran and Bengal.
8. Three species have become extinct in the last 60 years: the Javan, Bali and Caspian tigers.
9. There are only about 3,500 tigers left in the wild today. There are 12,000 in captivity in the U.S alone.
10. The word ‘tiger’ comes from a Persian word (‘tigris’) meaning ‘arrow’.
11. The tiger has killed more humans than any other large cat.
12. Siberian tigers are the world’s largest tigers. Their average size is 3.5m and they weigh 300 kilograms plus.
13. The Sumatran tiger is the smallest at 2m and 200 kilograms plus.
14. Modern scientists believe that tigers have a better short term memory than humans. They have a memory dozens of times better than primates and hundreds of times better than dogs. This is probably because they are solitary and their ‘mental map’ of their territory and the habits, location and type of prey items in it needs to be very strong.
15. Lions can mate with tigers to create ‘ligers’. These are the largest cats in the world at a whopping 4m long.
16. Incredibly, they have also been known to mate with leopards in the wild.
17. Tigers have been studied imitating the call of their prey in order to lure them in. In particular, the sambar deer’s mating call has been replicated by many tigers in India.
18. Tigers live for about 25 years on average, both in the wild and captivity. Some can live for 40 years, however.
19. The greatest hunter of all time was Jim Corbett. He killed a total of 33 man-eaters between 1907 and 1938. At least three of these were leopards but we won’t hold it against him! His first hunt for a man-eater ended in the death of mankind’s greatest, known serial killer! The Champarat tiger had killed 436 RECORDED victims. This means there were probably many, many more. Even the Nepalese army had been sent out to kill it but couldn’t. They merely drove it into India where Jim Corbett was waiting……
Jim also killed the Panar leopard (over 400 recorded kills) in 1910.
He also killed the feared Radraprag leopard (126 recorded kills) in 1926.
20. The worst group of man-eaters in history were the lion pride of Njombe in Tanzania. Between 1932 and 1947, they killed at least 1,500 people and maybe as many as 2,000. A very brave hunter called George Rushby eventually killed them one by one. The worst serial killer alive today is probably a crocodile called ‘Gustave’ in Burundi. He is responsible for the deaths of at least 300 people, according to a French herpetologist called Patrick Faye who has been studying him since the late 1990’s. All efforts to capture him have failed, a film called ‘Primeval’ was made about him and he is still out there today terrorising villagers.
And finally. Who would win a fight between a bear and a tiger? A tiger can kill a sloth bear with a single swipe and has been seen to do so many times. In March, 2011 in Ankara, Turkey, a tiger reached into the lion’s enclosure and killed a lion with one swipe, severing his jugular vein. A large tiger is also intelligent enough to reach down and poke out the eye of any crocodile who tries to attack him while he is swimming. On land, he tries to flip over the crocodile in order to disembowel his soft underbelly. This behaviour has also been recorded.
Does this make the tiger the most dangerous large mammal on our planet? Probably not. A polar bear would be a very dangerous adversary for a tiger as he has fur so tough even a tiger would struggle to get through it. Who would win? Probably the polar bear but we will never know as their habitats are so different. If you have thoughts on this or on any other aspects of the post, feel free to share them with me and I will try to respond. Take care for now. Liam.
For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title.