“Notwithstanding the danger of still-hunting a tiger in the tangle of its lair, one cannot but feel richly rewarded for the risk when one begins to sum up one’s observations. The most interesting result of investigating an oft-frequented lair is concerning the animal’s food. That a tiger always devours its prey upon the spot where it is taken or in the adjacent bush is an erroneous idea. This is often true when the kill is too heavy to be carried for a long distance, but it is by no means universally so. Not long ago the remains of a young boy were found in a grave adjacent to a tiger’s lair a few miles from Futsing city. No child had been reported missing in the immediate neighborhood and everything indicated that the boy had been brought alive to this spot from a considerable distance. The sides of the grave were besmeared with the blood of the unfortunate victim, indicating that the tiger had tortured it just as a cat plays with a mouse as long as it remains alive.
“In the lair of a tiger there are certain terraces, or places under overhanging trees, which are covered with bones, and are evidently spots to which the animal brings its prey to be devoured. On such a terrace one will find the remains of deer, wild hog, dog, pig, porcupine, pangolin, and other animals both domestic and wild. A fresh kill shows that with its rasp-like tongue the tiger licks off all the hair of its prey before devouring it and the hair will be found in a circle around what remains of the kill. The Chinese often raid a lair in order to gather up the quills of the porcupine and the bony scales of the pangolin which are esteemed for medicinal purposes.
“In addition to the larger animals, tigers feed upon reptiles and frogs which they find among the rice fields. On the night of April 22, 1914, a party of frog catchers were returning from a hunt when the man carrying the load of frogs was attacked by a tiger and killed. The animal made no attempt to drag the man away and it would appear that it was attracted by the croaking of the frogs.”
“One often finds trees ‘marked’ by tigers beside some trail or path in, or adjacent to, a lair. Catlike, the tiger measures its full length upon a tree, standing in a convenient place, and with its powerful claws rips deeply through the bark. This sign is doubly interesting to the sportsman as it not only indicates the presence of a tiger in the immediate vicinity but serves to give an accurate idea as to the size of the beast. The trails leading into a lair often are marked in a different way. In doing this the animal rakes away the grass with a forepaw and gathers it into a pile, but claw prints never appear.”
THE BLUE TIGER
After one has traveled in a Chinese sampan for several days the prospect of a river journey is not very alluring but we had a most agreeable surprise when we sailed out of Foochow in a chartered house boat to hunt the “blue tiger” at Futsing. In fact, we had all the luxury of a private yacht, for our boat contained a large central cabin with a table and chairs and two staterooms and was manned by a captain and crew of six men—all for $1.50 per day!