One tiger was killed stone dead by a single bullet during one of our annual hunts, and falling back into the water, it sank to the bottom like lead. Being unable to find the animal, we beat all round the place, till I suggested it might have been hit and fallen into the river. One of the men was ordered to dive down, and ascertain if the tiger was at the bottom. The river water is generally muddy, so that the bottom cannot be seen. Divesting himself of puggree, and girding up his loins, the diver sank gently to the bottom, but presently reappeared in a palpable funk, puffing and blowing, and declaring that the tiger was certainly at the bottom. The foolish fellow thought it might be still alive. We soon disabused his mind of that idea, and had the dead tiger hauled up to dry land.
Surprised by floods, a tiger has been known to remain for days on an ant-hill, and even to take refuge on the branch of some large tree, but he takes to water readily, and can swim for over a mile, and he has been known to remain for days in from two to three feet depth of water.
A time-honoured tiger story with old hands, used to tell how the Soonderbund tigers got carried out to sea. If the listener was a new arrival, or a gobe mouche, they would explain that the tigers in the Soonderbunds often get carried out to sea by the retiring tide. It would sweep them off as they were swimming from island to island in the vast delta of Father Ganges. Only the young ones, however, suffered this lamentable fate. The older and more wary fellows, taught perhaps by sad experience, used always to dip their tails in, before starting on a swim, so as to ascertain which way the tide was flowing. If it was the flow of the tide they would boldly venture in, but if it was ebb tide, and there was the slightest chance of their being carried out to sea, they would patiently lie down, meditate on the fleeting vanity of life, and like the hero of the song—
‘Wait for the turn of the tide.’
Without venturing an opinion on this story, I may confidently assert, that the tiger, unlike his humble prototype the domestic cat, is not really afraid of water, but will take to it readily to escape a threatened danger, or if he can achieve any object by ’paddling his own canoe.’
No regular breeding season.—Beliefs and prejudices of the natives about tigers.—Bravery of the ‘gwalla,’ or cowherd caste.—Clawmarks on trees.—Fondness for particular localities.—Tiger in Mr. F.’s howdah.—Springing powers of tigers.—Lying close in cover.—Incident. —Tiger shot with No. 4 shot.—Man clawed by a tiger.—Knocked its eye out with a sickle.—Same tiger subsequently shot in same place.—Tigers easily killed.—Instances.—Effect of shells on tiger and buffalo.—Best weapon and bullets for tiger.—Poisoning tigers denounced.—Natives prone to exaggerate in giving news of tiger.—Anecdote.—Beating for tiger.—Line of elephants.—Padding dead game.—Line of seventy-six elephants.—Captain of the hunt.—Flags for signals in the line. —’Naka,’ or scout ahead.—Usual time for tiger shooting on the Koosee.—Firing the jungle.—The line of fire at night.—Foolish to shoot at moving jungle.—Never shoot down the line.—Motions of different animals in the grass.