Tigers are notoriously reclusive cats that have become even rarer as their species has continued to shrink in numbers. But
recently (see update below) the BBC was able to capture the first-ever footage of a mother tiger with her cubs in the wild. And just how exactly did they manage to do this after years of trying? Rather simple, really—they strapped cameras to elephants! It seems the pachyderms and big cats are not exactly mortal enemies: the elephants don't attack full-grown pachyderms, nor do the tigers flee when the elephants wander by. As a result, the BBC was lucky enough to capture this footage. Narration provided by naturalist and voice of the wild, Sir David Attenborough, of course.
UPDATE (Feb. 25 @ 12:24pm): Well, as you can see, the BBC has disabled the video in the U.S. Our apologies. We've just found out that this footage is not new, as widely reported on American tech sites and blogs. Though the BBC only posted it to YouTube on Feb. 15, 2013, it was shot (probably in 2007) by John Downer Productions for a 2008 BBC series called "Tiger: Spy in the Jungle." Here's a good synoposis from JDP:
From the day their eyes open and they tumble out of the den, Tiger: Spy in the Jungle captures the day-to-day lives of four tiny tiger cubs as they grow up alongside their devoted mother in the very heart of India. The tiger is not only the world’s favourite wild animal but also one of the rarest, and as David Attenborough says, “This is the most intimate portrait of tigers ever seen.”
To enter the world of this tiger family, John Downer and his wizard team, cameraman Michael Richards and techno-boffin Geoff Bell, deploy the ultimate all-terrain camera vehicles—elephants—kitted out with the latest high-definition ‘secret weapons’ of wildlife filmmaking—trunk-cam, tusk-cam and log-cams. The four elephants here in India’s Pench national park have also been taught new filming skills by their mahouts—how to keep a steady trunk and a delicate touch.
As eco-friendly 4X4s, the elephants carry the hefty trunk-cam and smaller tusk-cam wherever the tiger family goes across its 10-square mile territory. The tigers seem oblivious to the elephants and allow them to place trunk-cam right under their whiskers to film. The elephants also use the devices to film the tigers on the move. The human film crew film from another elephant and control the ele-cams remotely.
Though not exactly new, it's still a neat trick and definitely something worth checking out. As Attenborough indicates, it's incredibly intimate footage of tigers as they make their way in an exciting, if unforgiving world, from tiny cubs to full-grown, deadly adults. Below is footage from the first episode of the series that shows the cubs at a slightly older age. Click through to the user's YouTube page for more of the series.
This story first appeared on The Adventure Blog.