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It transpired that the guide augmented his income by taking pictures of tigers himself, with a long lensed paparazzi style camera.
He had the camera resting on his knee beneath the Howdah’s safety bar – a simple iron bar which pivoted at one end and had a hook which dropped into an eye at the other.
The jeeps then go to the elephants, and there is then an orderly (for India) wait whilst your turn comes around to climb into the Howdah aback your particular elephant and be taken a short wobbly ride to view the tigers, who conveniently ignore the elephants and their occupants and go about their business as normal. On this particular day, we were on the largest and most experienced elephant, plodding through the scrub towards four tigers – a mother and three fully grown cubs.
Ahead of us was a much younger, smaller and inexperienced elephant with two tourists and an Indian guide on board.
Our mahout urged our elephant on towards the man left on the ground, whilst the other mahout got his elephant under control and turned back towards him.
The two tourists left in the Howdah then managed to pull their guide back on board whilst we circled to ward off any other tigers.
Pre-dawn, experienced mahout trackers set off on board their elephants and try to locate the tigers on a kill from the night before.
We were assured, however, that they couldn’t distinguish between us and the vehicle whilst ever we remained inside it.
Similarly when on board an elephant, they can’t make out where elephant ends and human begins.
You need to understand the mechanics of tiger photography, to get the picture – no pun intended.
Unless you are very lucky, getting a picture of wild tigers requires a visit to one of India’s National Park Tiger Sanctuary’s.
A bit like the Lake District with dangerous carnivores thrown in.