In Search of the Bengal Tiger
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June 23, 2001 -- Weekend Edition Saturday Producer Peter Breslow was part of a team sent to Nepal to report on the Terai Arc project for Radio Expeditions, NPR's collaboration with the National Geographic Society. The project is an ambitious plan to connect the national parks in Nepal's lowland region, the primary habitat for endangered wild elephants, rhinoceros and Bengal tigers. The hope is to create a corridor so that these and other wild animals will be able to migrate across the country and into India.
As Breslow recounts: "For two weeks we crisscrossed Nepal from east to west and back, from Royal Chitwan National Park, to Royal Bardia National Park and back to Chitwan. During the trip we saw so many rhinos we became blase. There were also sloth bears, wild boar, peacocks, crocodiles, even a wild bull elephant. But the tigers eluded us. We went out at sunrise. We went out at sunset. We went out with expert trappers and elephants that could smell a tiger from far away. But we spotted no black stripes in the jungle. Someone said we were trying too hard. After all, almost everyone at the Tiger Tops lodge where we were staying had seen a tiger. Everyone but us."
"The days ticked down and we became desperate. There was talk of slathering one of us with blood and staking him to the ground in the forest. As we rode hour after bumpy hour on the backs of our elephants, trying not to fall off, we kept the tape recorders rolling in the hopes of capturing the dramatic moment when the tiger would finally reveal itself. We now possess the largest audio archive of elephant meandering in North America -- and a reason to return to Nepal."
Read more about Nepal's Terai region, the Radio Expedition team that went there, and the rhinos that they herded.
Visit the World Wildlife Federation's page on Bengal Tigers in Nepal.
More information on Bengal Tigers in Bhutan, Indochina, India, and Russia can be found at a second World Wildlife Federation page.
If you are interested in more than an Internet search, get in touch with the folks at Tiger Tops Mountain Travel (the intrepid guides that led Peter and the rest of the Radio Expedition crew into the forest) at www.tigermountain.com.