THE MANCHURIAN TIGER.
by N.A. Baikov, a lifetime member of the Society of Study of the Manchurian territory, the author of the book "In mountains and woods of Manchuria", St.-Petersburg,1915.
This photo of the author was presented by George Vitt.
Translation to English, (c) Alex Shevlakov, 1999-2000. (All text, except for photos comments which were left as in the original).
The geographic names are given when possible according to Webster's dictionary. Otherwise, as names of some Far Eastern indigenous tribes, they are given in Russian transliteration.
-Alex Shevlakov, June 21,1999.
Living for more than 20 years within the Far East, and being engaged in research of the Manchurian fauna on various assignments and instructions from the Russian Academy of Sciences, I spent a lot of time hunting big game in the mountains and woods of this wild territory. It's evident that on these hunts I repeatedly happened to meet with "the fearful king" of Manchurian taiga, and to hunt on it in changing conditions and circumstances.
In presenting this article about Manchurian tiger, I should mention those people from whom I have received many useful instructions and advice. So, professor L.S.Berg has kindly given me the necessary data on general systematization of tigers, according to the newest research. I also used good instructions from B.V.Skvortsov, and they can equally be found in his excellent book "The fauna and flora of Manchuria and the Far East ". The known researcher of the Ussuri territory, traveler and connoisseur of the Primorye nature V.K. Arseniev has kindly rendered me many of valuable observations made during his travels in the Ussuri territory. The geologist A.N.Krishtofovitch has kindly sent me information on fossil mammals of the past tertiary period. A known hunter and connoisseur of tigers I.A. Dzul has also done me a great favor with his reports. I am sincerely grateful to A.D.Baturin, a hunter and amateur of nature, for his kind and essential help in collecting items of information about Manchurian animals. I am very much obliged to my true and constant companions in mountains and woods of Manchuria, Russian trappers, sharing with me all of burden of marching life in wanderings after wild taiga dwellers. These inconspicuous gray heroes were my teachers and instructors in the craft of difficult, sometimes dangerous hunt on large animals. These simple native people from internal regions of Russia, peaceful plowmen and farmers, changed here to courageous hunters, knights without fear and reproach, reviving immortal personages from the novels by J.F.Cooper and Mayne Reid, in which the young generation of all mankind takes a great interest.
I. Distribution of the tiger in Asia.
In Asia (see map) there are two separate areas of distribution of the tiger. First of them covers Persia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Turkestan, the Pamirs, India, Southern China, Indochina and some islands in the Malay archipelago (Java and neighboring isles). In this area there lives the common tiger, named also the royal or the Bengal tiger. Recently there have been established three subspecies or, more correct, races: Felis tigris regalis spread in India, Indochina and Malacca, Felis tigris septentrionalis (southwest Asia) and Felis tigris mongolica (Central Asia and China). More independent, there is Felis tigris javanica (in Java and Sumatra), which would be more correctly considered a separate subspecies or even a species. From the listed subspecies within the limits of Russia there are found: Felis tigris septentrionalis (the Transcaucasia, the Trans-Caspian and Turkestan) and Felis tigris mongolica (the Zailiyski territory and Altai).
Distribution of the Tiger Through Asia.
The tiger is found in two different regions. The southern region, which is the home land of the Bengal or Royal Tiger (Felis tigris regalis) as well as two its closest relatives, the Felis tigris septentrionalis and the Felis tigris mongolica, comprises Persia, Baluchistan, Turkestan, the Pamirs, British India, Southern China, Indo-China and also Java and Sumatra, where the Felis tigris javanica occurs. This region is nowhere boundary with the northern area, which is the habitat of the Manchurian tiger (Felis tigris mandshurica).
Completely different is the Far East area of distribution of the tiger, separated from the first area by the Chinese plain and by extensive spaces of the waterless Gobi deserts, named Sha-Mo in Chinese. The tiger's natural habitat of the Far East has no points of conjunction with the previous area, and it is established by the newest research that the tiger did not originate from tropical or, in general, southern Asia, but has stayed from the tertiary period, as well as many other, so called relict representatives of the ancient fauna and flora of this area. That is why an extensive country comprising the Amour area, the Ussuri krai, southeast Manchuria and Korea, is delineated as a specific geographical Manchurian region with inherent fauna and flora, where the mix of the northern and southern forms shows very clearly. Here, we have a lot of plants and animals that are absent now in the adjoining Siberia, but live in more southern parts of globe. The geological history of this area was such that the forms having their origin from the tertiary period have survived in this area till now in spite of severe climatic conditions, with great fluctuations between extreme cold and heat. The Far East representative of the giant cat is one of such relict forms, being extremely close both in its anatomic structures, and in the way of life, to the fossil cavern tiger - Machairodus (see fig.).
Machairodus cultridens Skull.
The skull of this ferocious carnivore of the tertiary period (also called the Fossil Cavern Tiger), may be, in consideration of its shape and a number of characteristics, classified surprisingly similar to that of the Manchurian tiger. The author suggests calling the latter "the Manchurian Cavern Tiger".
The tiger of the Far East, sharply distinguished in its physical and biological qualities from the Indian or Bengal tiger, must not be considered a variant of the South Asian tiger, but rather an independent species. As well as its ancestor, the cavern tiger, the Far East or Manchurian tiger lives solely in stone rocky mountain bush thickets, and almost always makes its den in stone niches, clefts of rocks and caverns, whereas other species of this animal in India, China, Turkestan and Persia prefer plain landscape with thickets of reed, or marshy river lowlands. In Manchuria there are many similar places, abundant in any animal, but where the tiger does not occur; it is found only in rocky mountains covered with primeval coniferous wood. In India the tigress raises cubs in dense marshy jungles, and in Manchuria always in mountainous labyrinths, hid in the rocks, on forbidding high ridges.
Skull of the Manchurian Tiger.
Rough sketch made by the author. Next below is a drawing of a carnivorous tooth of the upper jaw. A peculiarity of the Manchurian tiger is the missing fifth additional point (or bump) on that tooth.
In the anatomic relation the Manchurian tiger differs much from the Bengal tiger. Its massive body and powerful skeleton system remind something ancient, obsolete. Its skull is 1,5 times bigger than the skull of the Bengal tiger, and the amazing muscular system and total weight of the animal relate it to some extinct species of the mammals. The best weight of the Indian tiger, bagged by Beresfort in Radjputan, where the tigers are especially great, - was 200 kgs (12,5 poods), however this weight is said average and ordinary for the Manchurian tiger, which quite often weighs 20 poods. Long fluffy fur of this tiger, rather big mane on the neck, and also coloration give basis for classifying this feline as a special independent species in the zoological systematization.
There is no special literature on the Far East tiger. It was described first as Felis tigris longipilis Titzinger, then as Felis tigris amurensis Satunin (see K. Satunin. The mammals of Russia determination book, 1914). Other authors (Trouessart) unite Felis tigris mongolica with Felis tigris longipilis. In general, it is possible to say that the systematization of tigers is unsatisfactory, because nobody from those authors had enough material, i.e. skins and skulls, and the description had been based on too few individuals.
The Amour tiger ordinary scientific name is Felis tigris amurensis, the Ussurian tiger due to quality of its fluffy fur is named Felis tigris longipilis, and the brightly colored Korean tiger is named in honor of the emperor of Japan - Felis tigris Mikado. In fact, all these names are given to the versions of the one species living in the Amour area, the Ussuri krai, Manchuria and Korea. The Korean and Ussurian tiger are only races of the Manchurian tiger, for there occur individual animals having attributes from both types, i.e. a mixed type. Besides, in the same litter there may be cubs of different types. Similarly, the exact border of distribution of these types cannot be specified. Therefore, it would be more correct to join them in one zoological species, naming it after its habitat in Manchurian geographical region - "The Manchurian cavern tiger" Felis tigris mandshurica.
The area of the Manchurian tiger distribution is very large (see map). Being in general a mountain animal, the tiger lives only in mountainous areas overgrown with virgin woods of the Manchurian zoogeographic region, and only few individuals can be found in the lowlands covered with primeval forest. All big ranges in this area serve the tiger as refuge: in the east, in the Ussuri territory the Sikhote-Alin, in the south the highest of the local ranges - the Jan-bo-shan and its southern spurs, going along the east coast of the Korean peninsula; in the center there are northern spurs of that range, between Lake Khanka and the Sungari river, which are named the Tai-pinling, the Kentey-Alin, the Lao-e-ling (Jan-guan-tsailing); in the north, on the right and left banks of the Amour, the whole of the Small Khingan mountain system. Some individuals come into the eastern part of the Big Khingan from the upper river Kumara and occasionally come across the upper basin of the river Nonni. In the rest of the Khingans the tiger is not present. It is due to the circumstance that these mountains are sparsely covered with trees, and the mountains structure does not meet with living habits of the animal: here there are no rocky ridges, gorges, chasms; no steep slopes, high rocks, caves, mountain plateaus and stone deposits, which are crucial for the life of the tiger.
Area of Distribution of the Manchurian Tiger.
The habitat of the Manchurian tiger comprises northern Korea, north-eastern Manchuria, the Ussuri region and a part of the territory north of the Amour river. Places where the tiger is most abundant are shown heavily shaded.
In the Amour region, on the left bank, the tigers occur less often than on right Manchurian bank, and the further to the north, the fewer they are, so the northern border of distribution is possibly 50N, though some individual stray animals reach up to 52N, seen near the river Gorin and at the outfall of Selendja.
From the river Kumara basin tigers come rather seldom into the eastern part of the Trans-Baikal, passing on the left bank of the river Argun. It may happen only once in several years.
The tiger was pushed off by colonization, in the Ussuri region, from the eastern and southern parts of the Khanka area, and also from suburbs of Nikolsk, Vladivostok and Posiet, as well as from all southern Korea and its western coast.
Within the limits of this area the basic home range of the tiger is the Guiring province, where it abides in multitude as, for example, in extensive primeval woods of the upper river Sungari, the Lalinkhe and Ashikhe, and also in the following rivers basins: the Mudan-jan, Maikhe, Muren and Sui-foung.
Some points in this forested area which has a Chinese name Shu-Khai (the wood sea), have names which are relative to the tiger, for example, the Tiger mountains, the Tiger lowlands, the Tiger ravines, and so on. Even now this area is covered with almost continuous virgin forest, although significantly thinned recently on the borders and on the KVZhD (Chinese-Eastern Rail-Road.- A.Sh.), but 25 years ago it was actually continuous green sea of impassable primeval woods, where every animal lived at ease, and where the tiger alone reigned. Now culture has expanded its borders and blocked up the mighty king of animals into far unapproachable jungles and mountains, where it still can be "the lord", a figurative saying of old taiga men. Upon the KVZhD construction, with cutting down the woods and colonizing the territory, the tiger has become rare too, occurring only on transitions from one area to another. Nevertheless it is necessary to consider the upper reaches of the river Sungari up to the Guiring, the upper river Lalinkhe up to Sang-Khetung, all basin of the river Mudan-Jan, upper reaches of the rivers Muren and Sui-foung as a native land of the Manchurian tiger. In these areas the extensive Korean pine forests still remain, with numerous herds of the boar, the main prey of the tiger. Where there is the Korean pine, there is the boar, and where there is the boar - there is the tiger. If no boar is present in the area, the tiger hunts on other animals: elk, roe, deer, goral, and only induced by strong famine, comes near to dwelling of the man and cuts his cattle, dogs, and sometimes the owner, at the door of his own house.
If the quantity of the herbivorous animals decreased in the area where the tiger lives, it would roam far wanderings in search for food; sometimes on 100 miles and more, but nevertheless, after the period of time, it comes back again to live in the same lair. When disturbed by the wood cutting, or hunters, it moves to the quieter places and does not come back.
II. The Manchurian tiger (Felis tigris mandshurica).
Under this name we group three versions spoken of above: Amurensis (Amour), Longipilis (Ussurian) and Mikado (the Korean tiger).
The Manchurian tiger is a very beautiful cat with perfectly painted rich fur. Its constitution is powerful to the maximum degree, and at the same time it is well shaped. It's by no means inferior to the lion, the king of animals, in the beauty and strength, but even surpasses it. The body of the tiger is longer, and the head is more roundish than that of the lion, the tail is fluffy, but without a brush on the end. The wool on the body is even and smooth, and on cheeks is lengthened a little as side-whiskers. On each side of the neck, on the belly and on the chest the hair is also rather long. The hair of the winter fur is twice longer than that in the summer. In the winter the thick wool grows protecting tiger from severe frosts. A hair of the winter fur on the back, on each side and on the legs is 2-4 cm long. The length on the side-whiskers is 10 centimeters, and on sides of the neck it is 8 cm. On the belly the length of hair is 8-10 cm, and on the tail it is 6 cm. On the muzzle the hair is short, without undergrowing wool, also not exceeding 1 cm. About the coloration of fur I shall speak below, describing subspecies.
Skull of the Manchurian Tiger.
Length . . . . . . . . . . 40 cm.
Width . . . . . . . . . . . .28 ?
Height . . . . . . . . . . . 18 ?
Distance between eye sockets . . . . . . . . . 8 ?
canines . . . . . . . . 8 ?
Length of the lower jaw . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 ?
? upper canine (up to the root) . . . . . .8 ?
Height of the skull ridge . . . . . . . . 2 ?
Data obtained from a specimen in the collection of the
Harbin C. E. R. Commercial School.
Besides the fur, the tiger has white rigid hair growing as bunches. So, the ears in the front are closed with bunches of white hair 4 cm long, on the chin too, the rare white hair up to 0,5 cm grows. The males' whiskers are very well developed, set on lips in 5 rows. The hair of the whiskers is white, being best in the middle row; the longest hair is 15 centimeters long in this row, and is as thick as a knitting wire.
The fore legs are with 5, and hind legs with 4 fingers. The bottom of a foot has a soft pillow as a heart-shape turned with its thin end forward. The same pillows are on the fingers, so the tiger tread is absolutely quite. The fingers are armed with sickle-shape protruding and very sharp claws, of the nacre color. The biggest claw on the thumb is 10 cm long on the top bend and 4 cm high at the basis. Claws are shed annually, and the shedding occurs in the autumn. By December old withered claws peel off, crumble and come off. To facilitate this process the tiger frequently scratches the trunks of trees with soft bark, such as the Korean pine, silver fir and cork tree.
On the flat and thick skull there are: a high crest and outstanding arches of the cheek bones, indicating the attachment of strong muscles moving the lower jaw. All teeth are 30, namely: 6 incisors and 2 fangs on each jaw, 3 pseudo-molars on each side of the upper jaw and 2 pseudo-molars on the lower jaw, and one hind carnivorous tooth on each side of both jaws. The fifth additional bump on top of the upper carnivorous tooth is not present. The fangs of the upper jaw are especially great and are sometimes 6 cm long; they have a conic form, are sharp and slightly bent backward.
The fleshy tongue is remarkable, its surface is covered with horny, bent back thorns, which sit on large warts. This tongue supplements the other weapons in the mouth. The thorns of this tongue can be 0,5 cm long, very sharp, and at licking they increase the action of the teeth.
From organs of sensation, the tiger's hearing is best. Though its auricle is rather small, it can catch the slightest noise at far distance. During the hunt, looking for food, the tiger finds the way almost only by hearing, and secondly by sight, which is less developed, although enough to catch the slightest movement not only in the daytime, but also at night. The big eyes (up to 4 cm) have round pupils and the iris of greenish-brown color with yellow veins. At night the pupil shines with a phosphoric light.
Head of a Korean Tiger.
The tongue of the tiger is covered with horny points, bent backwards and set in large lumpy warts. These points are 0,5 cent. long and very sharp, supplementing the action of the teeth, when used for licking. This tiger was killed near Weishaho Station in 1911.
Head of an Amour Tiger.
The Amour tiger surpasses all other types of the Manchurian tiger in thickness and glossiness of the coat. Killed in 1913 on the Mu Tan Chiang near San-Sing.
The sense of smell and taste stand on the same level of development, though its taste nevertheless is better than its smell. The latter is poor, and it can be excited only by strongly odorous substances; even at a short distance the tiger does not feel the prey, if it can't catch its presence by hearing or sight.
Speaking of the internal structure and internal organs of the tiger, it is necessary to state that the bones of its skeleton are short and very massive, and the spine consists of 20 chest and waist vertebrae, 3 sacrum and 21 tail vertebrae. The neck consists of 6 vertebrae. The spinal and neck vertebrae have large outgrowths. The intestinal channel is 3 times longer than the length of the body. The stomach is very voluminous.
The muscular system of the body is extremely massive and perfectly developed. Especially amazing is the powerful structure of the muscles of the chest, fore legs, neck, back and chewing muscles. They are great, roundish, very elastic and rather short; muscles of the hind legs are oblong and also elastic.
The size of fully adult Manchurian tiger is: the total length is 3,90 meters, from which the tail is 100 cm. The height in shoulders is 115 cm, width of the forehead (between the ears) - 30 cm, volume of the fore leg is 60 cm, volume of the chest is 220 cm. The volume of the neck is 100 cm, the weight is 320 kg (or 20 poods). In comparison with male, female is almost 1\5 less. On the belly it has 4 mammillae; besides, its head is disproportionately small and narrow, its thorax is weaker and, in general, its constitution is not so massive. The female's coloration is also different: the male is colored more intensively, and the black stripes of its fur are wider.
In Manchuria, the trappers, naturalists and Chinese hunters can tell two variants of the tiger: one is of a lighter color, with more fluffy and long fur, and the other is dark, with shorter fur. The light tigers with long fur live in the northeast of the territory, and the dark ones in the middle part and in the southeast. The trappers' name for the former tiger is the Ussurian, and for the latter one the Korean. This latter tiger has special charm and importance such as worshipping for the Chinese, and is also referred to as the "Wang" by them, i.e. the chief; on its muzzle they see the image of the hieroglyph "Wang", marked by the Creator of the Universe.
Figures on the fur of the Korean tiger present a very beautiful contrast of colors: on a light rusty-yellow background there are clear dark stripes mottling the fur. As with all cats, color of the fur on the back is darker than on each side of the body. On the belly, on the internal flanks of the legs, under the tail, on the lips, on the bottom of the cheeks, on the ears, between the fingers and above the eyes, and also on the bottom of the tail the fur is white. From the back across onto body's each side, being inclined a little forward, there are black stripes with a silky shine, of a rather regular form. The distance between them varies with different individuals, due to the difference in the width of stripes. Some of these stripes break up into parts or double stripes. The tail is colored slightly lighter than the body, and is also covered with black spots and rings at the root, then there's wool of wide black rings with a small brown stain in the middle of each ring's top. The tip of the tail is black. The adults' fur is darker than that of the young and of the females. The Ussurian tigers differ from the Korean ones, all over the body their fur is more fluffy and long, forming a kind of mane on each side of the neck. Besides, the coloration of their fur is much lighter; dark stripes are a little narrower and not so sharp, their black color sometimes changes into brown. In some rare cases there occur animals with long fluffy fur, with a mane on the neck, in light tawny-yellow color, with brown stripes, narrow and wavy, which is due to the significant length of their rich wavy fur. The tail of the Ussurian tiger is ostensibly longer, almost twice as thick and fluffy *).
The moult, i.e., the change of the hair cover, occurs two times per year: in September and in March. The summer fur is shorter, it has no wool undergrowing; besides, in the summer the coloring is more dark and red. The whole process of the moult takes two weeks. The hair of black stripes is replaced faster, as well as the fur on the muzzle and legs.
*) The character of this tiger is mild and peaceful; it is not so wild and blood-thirsty, as its Korean relative. Cases of this animal's attack on the man are extremely rare, whereas the Korean tiger frequently plunders into Manchurian settlements and farms, not only rushing in cattle yards, but also into fanzas of the defenseless farmers and inhabitants of the forest.
Live Tiger in the Forest.
Photographed just before being killed during a hunt in the upper reaches of the Hailinho.
III. Observations of the tiger life and character.
The character of the tiger vividly shows during their mating period.
The period on heat and pairing is in the end of December and in the beginning of January, and for the young, this period begins sometimes two weeks later. In this restless period, males roam in the mountains and woods, looking for females. It is possible, that several males pursue one female, and then there occur fights between them. The strongest of the animals certainly has the advantage and will not let other male approach the female until the lust is satisfied. During this period the voice of tiger is frequently heard in the primeval woods, resembling the dull roar and cough. The fights between males are fierce, the place of fight is always stained with blood, but despite of the heavy wounds from claws, these duels never end in death: the weakest, after a good thrashing, cedes the battle-field to the strongest, and starts up a new search of adventures.
During the mating period tigers become less cautious, as though the turn insane from passion and pay little attention to the all the rest. At this time, it is easy to approach tigers with a gun and to lay down two - three predators with good shots. There were cases in this period, when a courageous hunter would meet a group of five or six tigers, and kill them one by one, just standing on a place. The animals during pairing and fights are inasmuch carried away that they do not pay attention to the man coming up to them. This is the best time for hunting on tigers, as at other times these animals are extremely cautious, mistrustful, sly, perfidious and sharp, so the hunt on them is very difficult and dangerous.
After the period on heat males and females break up and live a lonely, retired life, the same as before. In three months and a half after pairing the tigress bears two or three, sometimes four blind cubs, making the den in inaccessible stone slums in the mountains, among rocks, thickets, in stone niches, caves, in clefts of the cliffs. The den is usually made in the region abounding in the boar or other animal, in order not to leave it for long in search for food. The den looks no different from other places in the neighborhood; it is usually in a natural cavern of stone or ground and sometimes is covered with dry leaves or grass, but more often without any cover. As precaution, the tigress never comes up to the den directly, but always tries to hide its traces, walking on stones; this precaution is not superfluous, as they say, the male tiger sometimes eats the newborn cubs on finding them.
The Rocky Lair of a Tiger.
Entrance into the cavern where the tiger's lair was discovered.
Newborn cubs are the size of a small cat and grow up very quickly. In two months the mother would let the cubs out from the den, but not for long. For practice she often brings them half-alive animals, on which future predators are trained to the craft. The mother feeds them with milk for half-year, and then begins to train them on hunting the game, for since September she takes them on the hunt and gradually gets them involved into this difficult business. The cubs stay with the mother for one year, then gradually begin to live an independent life, for some time keeping close to the den. Thus, the tigress can bring cubs in alternate years, but not annually. Young tigers keep near to the den up to three years age, and only after three years they start up roaming, which last till they find a place where their life is easy. The tiger achieves complete maturity and virility only in five years. The lifetime limit of this animal is 40-50 years.
Amour Tiger Cub.
Caught near Weishaho Station September, 1912. Age: six months, weight 38 lbs.
Remains of a Chinaman Killed by a Tiger.
Having attacked a man, the tiger devours the fleshy parts of the thighs, chest and abdomen, the power of his jaws is such that he can crack a man's head like a nut. The picture was taken near Siding No. 4 of the lumber concession branch line at Shih-tou-hotzu.
An old tiger's teeth are usually rubbed and broken off, the growth of claws is not normal, as they become fragile, blunt and weak; the muscular system decreases in volume, and the coloring of fur turns pale from appearing gray hairs, which are especially noticeable on the black background of the cross stripes. Such tiger is not able to hunt on a big prey any more, and contents itself with smaller ones, i.e., piglets, young elk, deer and even hares, pheasants and gorals. Such animal often becomes a man cannibal, as it understands the ease of this hunt.
Nevertheless the main food of the Manchurian tiger is the boar. One, two or a few tigers usually follow after a herd of these animals; the predators keep close to the pachydermatous, till they kill every animal, or till the herd disperses in fear. The local hunters say that "the tiger keeps the boar herd"; and really, this terrible shepherd upon destroying one herd passes to another. Besides the boar, the tiger skillfully steals the elk and the goat, catching the animals in their favorite tracks, near the pond and in the resting place. The tiger never pursues the escaping prey. To catch the prey, the predator ordinarily comes nearer to it on one - two sazhens (1 sazhen = 2,13 m. - A.Sh.), then jumps, pulls it down and bites through the neck vertebrae. It does so with both small and large animals. Its strength is such that by taking in the jaws the animal's neck, it then can easily carry a boar, an elk, a horse and a cow. Even such cases were observed, when seizing the horse by the back of the neck, it jumped up 2 meters high with it in the mouth. Killing a large boar, 10 -15 poods of weight, the tiger drags it to a secluded and secret place, usually near to water, and at first devours fleshy parts from thighs, back and abdomen. To be full satiated, it must eat up to 2-3 poods of meat. After such dinner it drinks a lot and lies down near under a Korean pine to have rest. During this rest, it sometimes drinks water from the stream, then lies down again and rests sometimes a day or more. All this time it lies on its side, stretching the hind and fore legs. After the rest it eats again, till there's no more meal. But if there is a plenty of food nearby, it picks only tasty morsels . Second to the boar, its favorite prey is the dogs it catches by night near the wood settlements of Manchurians and new Chinese settlers.
Remains of a Russian hunter Killed by a Tiger.
These remains were found in November, 1912, 7 miles from Yablonia Station.
Devouring large animals, it never eats hoofs, horns and legs up to knees, jaws with teeth and stomach with intestines. However, small animals, such as deer, piglets, dogs, are eaten wholly without remains. As for the man, the tiger, first of all, devours thighs, abdomen and chest, then shoulders, back, extremities and head, which it cracks open like a nut. It previously tears off the clothes, working with the incisors; thus it undresses the man completely, before beginning to eat.
A rather big tiger would defeat a bear of almost the same weight. For this purpose, the predator tracks down the bear and makes an ambush, ordinarily on a rock or in wind-fallen trees, taking the side against the wind. Carelessly a bear slowly goes by an ambush, suspecting nothing, and the tiger rushes out on it from above, its one paw claws under the bear's chin, the other paw at the throat, and the tiger bites through the neck vertebrae. Sometimes the bear notices the danger in time, and not feeling able to struggle with this enemy, it escapes into the nearest tree, where the tiger cannot follow, being unable to climb the trees. It is possible that the tiger would patiently wait under the tree, till the bear is tired out of sitting in the tree and then it comes down, but more often in such cases the tiger would pretend to be leaving the place, whereas it would hide in a new ambush and watch the bear come down. In a word, there is no animal in the Manchurian taiga guaranteed against attack of the terrible predator, starting from the bear and finishing with the hare. The man is guaranteed less than others, as most defenseless, of course, if he is not armed with a good weapon such as a modern small caliber rifle or a carbine.
Felis tigris mandshurica var. Mikado
Manchurian (Korean) tiger.
Felis tigris mandshurica var. longipilis.
Manchurian (Ussurian) tiger.
The voice of the tiger can be heard very seldom, even in places where it constantly lives; only on heat males make sounds, similar to the cat's mewing, but certainly louder. During pairing, the copulating male does not beat the female with paws, but makes dull roars. During fights for the female, the male tiger's roar resembles the lion's roaring, though muffled and with rattling and gurgling sounds. By clear frosty January night in the primeval Korean pine woods of the Lao-ye-ling one can often hear tiger duets and trios; the voices of tigers calling to one another sharply sound in the clean mountain air, the far echo reflects these sounds and dies away in depths of the taiga. The tiger usually makes a drawling dolorous sound, which rather quickly repeats and terminates in three or four short sounds. A low throat sound "ah-ouun", or "eh-ouun" can be heard sometimes. At an attack on prey or in fury, it dully roars and makes sounds similar to cough. In general, the voice of the tiger is strongly impressive in wild majestic atmosphere of the primeval wood, in the night silence involuntarily raising ideas about terrible force of the enormous cat.
It is not correct to think the tiger is a nocturnal animal; it hunts at any time of day, though it prefers the time after the sunset and before the sunrise. Having sated, it lies the most part of day and only by the sunset it livens up and begins the predating activity. If the night was unsuccessful in sense of the hunt, it stalks the prey in the afternoon.
A Tiger's Foot Prints
1\8 the Natural Size.
A Tiger's Foot Prints.
One has to rely upon the fact that the favorite residence of this animal is mountain woods growing on steep, precipitous rocky slopes in the zone of absolute heights of 2000-4500 ft. Sometimes, in search for prey, it comes down into the valley woods at foothills, but still it is necessary to consider this animal as the resident of primeval Korean pine woods of the northeast Manchuria. Where mountain ranges are unapproachable, where the slopes are more abrupt and steep, where there are extensive stone deposits, vertical high cliffs, rocky ridges, niches and caves - there probably can be found tigers living in this area permanently. The animal loves to go in hunting excursions on mountain ridges, where both slopes are visible to it; often it lies on a high ledge of a steep rock towering above the river valley and surveys therefrom its possessions. Seeing the prey, it quickly slides downwards like a snake, making an ambush, or stealing the grazing animals.
The tigers live constantly in a certain area, if it satisfies to certain conditions, arranging the lair in places at the first glance not different from ten other similar places on that slope of the mountain. Knowing these places it is possible to be sure that you will always find a tiger there: if the lair resident gets killed, the empty apartment is always occupied by another tiger.
The tiger has all customs and habits of the cat. Its movements are graceful, though unusually fast, dexterous and provident. Its prowl is not audible at all, so it can move in the grass no more than 1 arshin (One meter. - A.Sh.) high, invisible to the eye; in these cases its movements and figure resemble these of a snake. In search for food, it quickly passes large distances, sometimes up to 80 and 100 kilometers per day. It normally moves at a walk, the size of step up to 80 cm. It ordinarily treads the hind leg in the trace of the fore leg (see fig.) *). Its gallop is very fast, with the size of jump sometimes of 4 meters. During the pursuit of the prey it makes jumps from 5 to 7 meters in length; if jumping from above downwards, to 10 meters. It swims perfectly and during summer heats gets into water willingly; it likes to roll in cold jets of mountain rivers and brooks. Often in midday heat it lies near the water under the waterfall splashes, where mosquitoes and flies do not disturb it. It can gracefully climb up the rocks and steep mountain slopes, but never on trees, unless only the tree trunk is strongly bent down or gnarled from the ground.
It is possible to say that the coloring of the Manchurian tiger fur is quite protective, in particular on a yellow background of autumn and beginning of winter, when the tiger can hardly be seen even at close distance. In the summer it is hidden by rich vegetation, thickets and foliage, and during winter it is more conspicuous, but not so much as it seems at first sight. Many trees and bushes do not shed dead foliage in winter, and its yellow - brown color enables the predator to be imperceptible even on background of a winter landscape of the mountain taiga; it knows well of this feature and uses it, when hunting on the prey.
Almost all animals of the Manchurian wood have the grounds to be afraid of the tiger. Therefore, as little birds with shouts pursue kites and owls and give away the fox that has left its hole, in exactly the same way some animals in woods make loud sounds, when they feel the presence of the tiger. The wolves, crows, magpies and black kites almost always accompany the predator during its hunting excursions and sometimes signal of its presence by restless movements and shouts. The leftovers of the tiger meal are usually eaten by these companions.
*) By the way, the skilled hunters on prints of tiger feet can correctly determine the sex, weight, age and fatness of the animal. If the trace has a diameter of 20 and more centimeters - the animal is large, 15 and more poods in weight (up to 240 kg). The tigress trace is not so round as that of the tiger, and the prints of the fingers are more thin. There are many other attributes and characteristics interesting only to the trapper. Young cubs give rather large trace because their paws are disproportionately great, but the depth of trace is not big due to their small weight.
Though the Chinese believe that the one who has eaten of the tiger's heart becomes as strong and brave as the tiger, but actually it is impossible to call the tiger a brave animal. With all its ferocity, blood-thirstiness and wildness it is extremely sly, cautious and perfidious. Each movement, its actions and the way of life testify to that. In all its actions there is a visible rationalism close to reason and logic. It is very difficult to deceive and defraud the tiger, and impossible to take by surprise, even when it's deep asleep. Due to such qualities the tiger always avoids meeting with the man, for whom it has mistrust, even runs away from him, instinctively feeling danger. If the tiger is persistently pursued by the hunters for several days, it leaves this area for a long time, or for ever. It perfectly understands circumstances and takes them into account. For example, being not afraid of unarmed Chinese and Koreans at all, it catches their dogs and home cattle before their eyes, while the sight of an armed European will force it to stay back. But some tigers, especially the old ones, are convinced by experience that the European is as easy to cope with as the Chinese, so they become very dangerous, as they prefer to hunt on the man; thus the tigers are in some cases not only courageous, but even daring and impudent. Some cases were observed when the tigers rushed even on group of the armed people, crippling and killing the inadvertent ones. The people living alone in the woods and on farms, - the woodcutters, trappers, the ginseng gatherers, shepherds - suffer more often from such tigers.
With colonization of the territory, when the area of the primeval woods had been reduced more and more, and the amount of a wild animal decreased, the number of cannibal tigers increased. The better tiger gets acquainted with the man, the more violent it becomes, even so amazingly courageous. In 1912 on 30-th versta of the wood concession "Yablonya" a young tigress, having eaten a Chinese woodcutter three days prior to that, in the afternoon rushed on crowd of Chinese workers, who were rolling up logs, then crippled three of them and was gone only after the arrival of Russian workers armed with axes. Another tigress in 1910 near the station of Wei-sha-he broke through the wall of a peasant's fanza and dragged off a Chinese sleeping there, killing and eating two his watchdogs beforehand. There are plenty of such examples, and they characterize the audacity of the predator.
As cautious, sly and provident the tigress is in raising cubs, so she is madly courageous at protecting them. The despair and parent love make her lose the usual care, and in mad fury she rushes on hunters; if, in this case, a successfully shot bullet does not stop her, one or even both hunters become victims of the furious tigress.
The attack of the tiger almost always begins unexpectedly, from an ambush, and so prompt it is that it is not likely possible to fight. If the tiger sees that the ruse was no success, and the man is prepared to fire, it will quietly and imperceptibly leave, but just in order to repeat the maneuver in another place. After the second attempt failure, it will persistently try again and again, and eventually rushes on the hunter in such a place where the attack could not be expected.
Despite of the harm caused by tigers to the man and his herds, it is possible to consider them somewhat useful in those wild virgin districts of Manchuria, where the excessive multiplication of wild herbivorous and pachydermatous threatens to fields and crops of the farmers. In many districts, where the fields adjoin to woods, the boar actually destroys large areas of crops and gardens, and predators, in particular tigers, are benefactors to the settlers there, who are powerless to struggle with the multitude of the herbivorous robbers *).
Such tigers killing boars are respected and protected by the Chinese, who treat them as special entities sent to man by the Lord to protect life and property of the poor people from malicious spirits and enemies of the mankind. To such tiger, - the Guardian, they erect idols and altars on mountain passes, in far woods and wilderness, and pray to it, asking for protection and help in their struggle with dark forces of the nature.
Besides the man, the tiger does not have enemies, saying nothing of the numerous parasites, as ticks, gnats, and also worms, filling sometimes its intestines. The tiger eats almost exclusively the meat of the animals it kills, and only strong famine forces it to eat carrion or stale meat. Sometimes, as a delicacy or due to physical need, it munches the Korean pine nuts in nutshells. Like all cats, in the summer it eats grass, with the only purpose to facilitate the process of digestion; besides, in the autumn it loves wood berries and juicy fruits. In the white water of the mountain streams it skillfully catches fish, picking it up from water with its paw and throwing it out on the ground. On the right bank of the Sungari and on the Mudan-jan it catches turtles (Tryonix Maacki), very dexterously getting them from water, when these animals come up to the surface for breath.
The excrement of the tiger is very specific, and it never can be mixed with that of other animals. Usually it is in a plenty in the place where the predator devoured the prey for several days. It would lie slightly away from this place and look like small heaps of the hardened faeces of black or brown color, with the rests of not digested parts such as the wool, hair, teeth and so on. It smells strongly, characteristic for the faeces of all feline. The tiger never buries its excrement as home cats do. Sometimes the excrement looks like the black half-liquid tar, being elastic and with strong smell of the decay; it happens after a plentiful meal consisting of meat and blood. The Chinese gather the tiger excrement, dry it up and prepare medicines and remedies against gastric diseases. The tiger never defecates near its lair, but always afar, choosing for that a lonely and hidden place.
*) In some districts of India, where large herbivorous animals such as the boar, deer and antelope are in special abundance, harming to fields and destroying crops and plantations on a large scale, tigers and some other predators are under protection of the law. They lose this protection in case one of them was guilty of the cannibalism; then a ruthless war is started against the cannibal, till it is killed on one of the hunts organized for this purpose by the Indian government. For killing the tiger unlawfully, a fine is imposed.
The tiger's mouth reeks with especially strong smell of rotten meat, in particular so after a big meal. The skilled dogs can smell it from the far distance and escape in time.
The tiger, the same as our home cats, constantly cleans its fur and muzzle with its tongue, also using its fore legs. After a big meal it likes to paddle in a mountain stream, ducking its muzzle into water and champing while washing the rests of meat and blood from the mouth. In the winter in the absence of water it eats snow to satisfy its thirst. Apparently, the summer heat is intolerable for the tiger, therefore in June and July it goes up into the mountains, where stays at height of 4,000 ft or more. When the heat abates, i.e., in August, it again occurs at average heights, where it lives constantly. Winter frosts as low as minus 30 degrees are easily endured by tiger; it would not search for protection against blizzards and snowstorms, feeling perfectly in winter colds. In this season it is normally rather well fed and fat, and the layer of fat on the belly and flanks reaches 5 cm in thickness. In clear and moonlit night it loves to roll on snow and lie in the banks, always choosing for this purpose clearings and meadows in the wood, brightly lit by the moon, there sometimes it also creeps on the belly, as dogs often do.
In general it is possible to say that this animal is a child of the north, not of the south, and that its origination is rather from coniferous woods of Siberia than tropical jungles of India. Anyway, the Manchurian tiger had not appeared from the southern China, as it was believed before now, but is rather a native of the krai, its aboriginal and a representative of the obsolete ancient fauna.
IV. Hunt and trapping of the tiger.
The hunt on the tiger is not a big danger, certainly, having been acquainted with this animal, its ways, habits and character. In Manchuria and the Ussuri krai only Russian trappers hunt on the tiger with rifle, whereas the Chinese and other vagrant natives do not do it in fear of the terrible predator, limiting themselves to hunt with setting up cocked rifles.
Hunting the tiger, Russian hunters use dogs. Having found fresh tiger traces, the hunter sends the dogs forth, as though letting them play role of hounds. The dogs pursue the escaping predator and tell the hunters where the animal directs with their barking. The tiger, being hounded by dogs, often stops to frighten them off, or unexpectedly catch the one most careless and inexperienced. The old and habitual dogs do not approach to the tiger closer than at 50 steps, knowing by experience, that this is too dangerous. The pack of the trained and concerted dogs tries to surround the tiger from all directions, making the animal, which rushes to this and to that side, slow down its pace, and this enables the hunter to come nearer for a good shot, i.e., at the distance of 100-150 steps, where a real fatal shot is possible.
It is necessary to level the rifle at a place under the shoulder-blade , where the tiger has a small pit in the corner between the shoulder and the scapula; its heart is bound to be there. The bullet hit into the head brain does not always cause the instant death, that is why it is not recommended to shoot at the head; besides, the volume of the tiger brain is very small compared to the whole body. The wound in the backbone from the neck down to the basis of tail causes a paralysis of the hind legs and immobilizes the tiger, but it is very difficult to get bullet in this place, that is why it cannot be recommended. The wound in the abdominal cavity is certainly fatal, but far from being as effective as under the shoulder-blade. As to the famous shooting tiger in the eye, it's a matter of fables and has no serious meaning. Thus, at shooting the tiger it is necessary to remember that the only fatal and reliable place is the fore part of the thorax, where the heart, important blood vessels and tops of the lungs are located; even if the heart were not hit, the explosive bullet would make such destruction in this area that the animal would instantly lose ability to breathe, and it would be unconscious and not dangerous.
Like of all cats, the tenacity of the tiger is amazing. There were cases when the animal with the crushed skull would throw itself on the hunter and tear him to pieces. With its intestines put out the tiger went sometimes many miles, and finally rushed on the pursuing hunters. In such circumstance a dog is better here, as the wounded tiger, feeling prosecution, always makes an ambush and rushes on the hunter in the most unexpected way.
The dogs not trained on the tiger are useless, as they are taken by panic fear on sight of the predator's fresh traces, and seeing the tiger itself they get stunned and then, most often, become an easy prey of the beast. But skilled dogs also, they do often become victims of the terrible predator at its unexpected and prompt attack. For the hunt on the tiger one needs a dog of small length, fast, evasive, sharp, courageous, as some breeds of hunting Eskimo dogs, or their cross-breeds with the Manchurians' watchdogs. These latter dogs may sometimes be very be spiteful and sticky, and so they perfectly perform their mission at the tiger hunt. There were cases they snapped at the tiger and, of course, almost always paid with their life.
In general, the cases when the tiger rushed on the hunter, not after being wounded, are rare; it should be possible only when it were pursued for a long time and didn't have opportunity to eat and to have rest. An irritated and embittered predator would in such cases frequently make an ambush and unexpectedly rush on the hunter going on its traces. Sometimes the tiger, seeing that the pursuit is persistent, makes loops and comes on its trace from behind, thus going on traces of the hunter. But this does not mean that it searches chances to attack from behind, it is just interested to find out who goes on its traces, to proceed adequately. If the pursuit is persistent, the tiger tries to deceive the hunter, makes loops, goes in places not covered with snow in order to leave no traces, gets into impassable thickets, stone deposits, into rocks and, at last, goes on such steeps and rocks that not only the man, but also the dog will not follow it. Frequently, leaving from prosecution it gets upon a steep rocky terrace and therefrom watches the hunter slowly rise on a mountain; letting him approach at 100 steps or right up to itself, it leaves again, as though playing and mocking at the weak and slowly moving man.
Grouped Around a Kill
In the centre is N. A. Baikoff, the author of the article, who was serving at the time (1911) in the Trans-Amur guard forces. Next to him are his companions. The animal is a big specimen of the Korean tiger, 11.7 feet long, having a height of 31/2 feet at the shoulders and weighing 560 lbs.
It turns out quite different if the tiger is old, skilled, tasted of human meat; feeling its pursuers, it tries to leave, but seeing the persevering prosecution, it always makes an ambush in a place where it is least expected. It ordinarily beats the pursuing dogs with his paws, almost always breaking down the spine, then snatches across the body with its teeth and leaves in a gallop, to eat somewhere unhindered. A dog of average size like a foxhound would be devoured in ten minutes.
The powerful blow of this animal's paw is unusually strong. In one case the tiger rushed on a Chinese loggers wagon train from an ambush. By one jump it threw down the horse of the first sledge. The horse sprang up again and rushed forward. This left the tiger's hind legs on the ground. Holding the horse with its fore legs, the tiger tore out the whole horse's flank with its right paw, and the left one caught the eye sockets and broke down the neck vertebrae. All this time the woodcutters, going on twenty sledges, lay down on snow, begging the terrible king of the mountain taiga for mercy. By tearing off the harness, this blood-thirsty king snatched the dead horse at the back of the neck, carried the carcass for half kilometer on into thickets and ate up the hind legs. Three days later it hid again in an ambush in the same place, doing the same thing with another horse, leaving people safe and secure once again.
When the tiger openly rushes on the man, for example after being wounded by the hunter, it makes one or several jumps and beats with its paws sideways, so that the blows hit in the head or shoulders. One such blow is absolutely enough to crush the skull or to break down the shoulder with clavicle. When the man falls down, the tiger plunges its claws so much possible deeper into the head or body, trying to tear off clothes. By one sweep it strips off the back or the chest, by the second sweep it can break down shoulder blades, or rip open the thorax.
Having no firearms, the man is completely helpless against this predator and cannot fight it. Considering the weight of the animals and its dexterity, speed and rash, all uselessness of hand-to-hand struggle with it becomes clear. Only in rare and extraordinary cases it was possible for the hunter laying on the ground to rip the animal's belly open with a short knife. The wounds from the tiger's claws and teeth are almost always very grave, as muscles are torn and sinews are separated from bones, and the latter are smashed. Very often such wounds cause sepsis, in particular wounds from claws, whose bottom gutter is always smeared with old clotted blood. If a single hunter admitted of a hand-to-hand fight with the tiger, he would die almost for sure, if there were two hunters, in this case it is best to throw oneself on the ground face downwards, while the other hunter must instantly shoot into the tiger's ear aperture. There were cases when the tiger ripped both puzzled hunters, at first one of them, then the other. The dogs, even most courageous, in this case are useless, as during the attack the tiger does not pay them any attention. If the tiger rushes on the hunter after the first unsuccessful shot, which happens seldom, it will hardly be possible to shoot the second time, as then the attack is flash-like.
The Return from a Hunt.
Trapper Kermedz with a Korean tiger shot by him near Heng-taohotzu Station in 1912. The length of the animal is 10.8 feet, and weight 361 lbs.
All appearance of the powerful predator, and in particular its terrific sparkling eyes glance is such that sometimes even skilled and courageous hunters, who many times shot bears, would refuse to shoot. Psychologically it is explained in that the danger from this animal is incomparably greater than from the bear. This circumstance becomes dominant in the mind of the man put face to face with the tiger. The instinct of self-preservation at such people is usually stronger than the hunter's passions, and actually for such hunter it is better not to go for the tiger, as in the most critical moment his hand will shake and his bullet will be unfaithful, whatever good marksman he should be. As figurative saying of Russian trappers goes, such hunters' "heart falls" at sight of the formidable predator.
The only reliable weapon at hunting tiger is a modern rifled small-caliber gun in 3 lines, bottle-like cartridges loaded with smokeless gunpowder and a hollow-nosed bullet dum-dum; initial speed of the bullet fired from such gun should be not less than 3,000 ft, the gun must have a 5-cartridges magazine. There is nothing but say that it should have both levelness and precision. For excellent gunners, at close shooting, a carbine can be recommended, bored in 3-4 lines, or a Winchester rifle, caliber 500-50, with explosive hollow-nosed bullets. Also good are modern combat rifles having caliber in 3 lines, but with a small refashion, namely: to make a point of leveling coincide with a point of hitting at 100 steps, it is necessary to slightly raise the front sight and to lower the top cut of the back sight. Any other weapon which has not the above-stated qualities, is unsatisfactory and not effective against such hardy animal.
Mr. Charaeff, Professional Manchurian Big Game Hunter with two Tigers.
The animals were shot by him near Shih tou hotzu Station in 1912. On the left is an Amour tigress and on the right a three year old Korean tiger. The former weighed 306 lbs, while the latter weighed 324 lbs.
Besides the hunt on the tiger with a weapon in hands, in the Ussuri krai trappers still practice poisoning the tiger with strychnine, putting the poison encapsulated in wax into the meat, which is then left on the animal's favorite tracks, or into the carcass of the prey killed by the tiger. The poison is always put into the fresh, not frozen meat, though it must not be hot, to let the capsule stick to the meat, then it will be swallowed by the predator; in the hot meat the capsule will melt, and the poison will be strewn, while it is necessary that the whole of this amount should go into the stomach. For killing tiger, it is enough to put 30 pharmaceutical granules of strychnine into the capsule. As the tiger has no sharp sense of smell, it is necessary to check the bate more often, to sweep off snow and dust from it, and to leave it in conspicuous places. But this does not guarantee that the animal will take it. Frequently, being full, it will only turn it over with its paw and pass by, and the next time it will not even approach to it at all. The effect of 30 units of the poison starts in 10-15 minutes after its getting into the stomach. The tiger begins to feel pain and colic, the saliva flows in abundance, it jumps up, roars, scratches the ground with claws, plucks the snow in the mouth, rolls in spasms that grip over its legs, tries to run, falls, runs again, gets up on some rock and there dies, stretching its fore and back legs, approximately in half an hour after acceptance of the poison. If there were more than 30 un., the tiger would start vomiting; then it would little by little recover and leave without any harm done to it. In Manchuria, Russian trappers do not practice this method, and Chinese hunters neglect it for the purely religious reasons.
Chinese hunters and vagrant strangers have rather been accustomed to the way of killing the tiger through setting up cocked rifles. It can be used only in winter. As deep snow covers the mountains during this time of year, the tiger has difficulty in catching its prey. It goes almost exclusively on same ridges and rocks and treads out the tracks. These tracks are normally used not by one tiger, but by all of them living in this area, and they walk in the footsteps of each other, so by the end of the winter deep depressions are formed from tiger paws on these tracks, depth to 20 cm. These tracks are sometimes used by local trappers; they put out cocked rifles at the height of animal's thorax, as walking down the track it should touch with its leg a thin wire stretched across the track and tied to the gun trigger, causing the shot, and struck in chest with leaden shrapnel, the animal falls dead, or goes away fatally wounded. But usually the tiger notices the wire in time, however thin it were, and bypasses the dangerous place. The animal will come across it only when the fresh snow covered the thin iron thread and it became invisible, but such cases happen very seldom; more often the cocked rifles stay idle.
In Manchuria, the tiger is bagged mainly in the following districts: Omo-syang, Nin-an-syang and Khun-chun-syang of the Guiring province. The hunt is generally done by Chinese and Manchurian specialists-trappers, who use cocked rifles. Recently they began to use strychnine and explosive shells, hidden into dead animals carcasses. The shell looks like a gun cartridge and consists of nitrogen highly explosive gunpowder in tin casing. The explosion occurs at pressing on the external casing, and its smashing energy should injury only the brain, leaving the body and the skin intact. Trapping live animals is not practiced in Manchuria. Inside the alienation buffer zone along the Chinese-Eastern Railroad and territories adjacent to it, the tiger is occasionally bagged by Russian hunters, though no more than 2-3 per one year. In general in Manchuria 50-60 tigers are bagged annually.
The killed tiger bodies are bought up by local Chinese drugstores, and the skins go to fur markets of Ningut, Sansing, Guiring, Mukden, Ashikhe and Tsitsikar. The greatest quantity of killed tigers is imported to Peking and Tyantsing. The market price of the skin (with winter fur) changes from 200 to 300 Mexican dollars, and the fur of dark coloring is more expensive. The price of gross body weight is as follows: 16 kg (i.e.,1 pood) cost from 50 up to 75 Mexican dollars, and different parts of the body are priced differently. Besides, the age and sex matter at definition of the price: an adult tiger male costs more, and a female and young animals go for cheap. So, the one-year-old cub body with gross weight of 3 - 4 poods costs only 100 dollars, not 200. From adult male's organs its whiskers, heart, blood, bones, eyes and liver, and also genitals are especially valued. From these parts of the body they usually make powders and pills, which are used as medicines against various chronic diseases.
The tiger's whiskers grow in 5 rows, 10 hairs in each one; the middle row has the biggest hairs, and among them the seventh (from the nose) is the most thick and long. This particular hair is priced highly, sometimes up to 10 Mexican dollars. Rolled up in a ring, it is carried as an amulet on the neck or is sewn up into the front lapel of the man's suit. There's a superstition that the owner has an unlimited mysterious power on the women. So the benefits received by the hunter from the killed tiger are rather significant, and they quite pay back the spent capital, energy and difficulties in connection with the hunt on this animal.
The Chinese use the tiger meat as food. It is rather soft, tasty and has no smell; fried, its color resembles veal, and its taste is like that of beef or pork.
Hunting the tiger usually takes place in winter, from November till March 1, i.e., when its fur is especially fluffy and beautiful. The killed animal would not be disemboweled, and would be sent frozen to the nearest city , and further on to the market. To keep its fur, claws, whiskers, eyes and tail, it is necessary to densely wrap it in a cloth several times, otherwise it will be shipped to the destination without all these things, unrecognizable and depreciated. The most valuable and rare bodies are even sent in boxes made from massive boards. During the civil war, the hunt on this animal in the Ussuri krai had been considerably reduced. In Amour region and in Primorsky krai they now bag up to 25 tigers annually. All killed animals are bought up there by the Chinese, who send them through Tchifou and Shanghai to the home markets of China, mainly to Peking and Tyantsing. In Korea, the tiger is bagged by Korean experts in this business. The hunt is mainly done with guns of the newest systems. Annually there are no more than 25 tigers bagged there, which also go to Chinese markets.
A Manchurian Hunter and his Bag.
Mr. Charaeff with a young male Korean tiger at his feet, killed by him in 1913 near Shih-tou-ho-tzu Station. Weight: 288 lbs. Below the tiger is the carcass of a wild boar.
If the dead tiger is so highly valued by the Chinese, the price of an alive tiger is even higher. Recently, when it had been found out that the Manchurian tiger is much different from the Indian one, and that it is another species of this animal, there appeared a great demand from scientific establishments, zoos, menageries and wild animals dealers. The Ussuri krai being the only place where it was possible to get the northern tiger alive, agents of the interested people and establishments had been sent there. The great demand has amazingly lifted the price for an alive animal. So, the owner of a zoo in Hamburg, named Hagenbeck, paid 1,000 English pounds for an adult Ussurian tiger, 500 pounds for a tigress, and 100 pounds for a 1-year-old cub.
Such demand and such price have induced some industrialists in the South Ussuri krai to organize trapping alive tigers. Traps made as cages, with dogs and piglets as the bait, did not satisfy to the needs, as the animal gets trapped in such cages too seldom, and finally Russian trappers came up with catching tigers with their hands, more precisely with the net, which is thrown upon the animal by mere hands. All process of catching was reduced to the following: a pack of good spiteful dogs is sent down a fresh tiger trace, and the dogs eventually encircle the beast. At this time the hunters approach, and one of them faces the attack of the predator and falls into snow face downwards. Simultaneously, two helps throw upon the head and the chest of the tiger a net having form of a bag, and tighten up the ropes. Inside of the net, the animal lets off the hunter and tries to get out of the net, but gets only all the more entangled. In the end the tiger is swaddled in the net as a calf, tied up with ropes and shipped to where it now belongs. Certainly, this hunt requires incredible hardness, health, patience, courage, skill and knowledge of the animal character. Any slightest oversight or careless mistake may cost life, but the high price is temptation to many hunters, and so the life is put at stake. This method is good only to catch young tigers, not older than 3 years, weighing not more than 10 poods, while the olds exceeding this weight are very difficult to get this way, even almost impossible as having appropriate agility and fatness, they paralyze all efforts of not only three, but also of ten people.
They usually catch young cubs, up to a half-year, in the den, by killing or by catching the tigress beforehand, otherwise she would in frenzy rush on the hunters, protecting her children. Treated gently and patiently, the cubs become absolutely tame, and there were cases when the tigers achieved maturity in captivity and behaved like home animals. They say that one trapper living near Ningut had a home tiger going with him to hunt and sleeping with him in one bed. The cub was adopted by him still blind, fed up with milk from the bottle and grown up in a desolate and lonely fanza, far from human settlements.
V. Superstitions related to the tiger.
From time immemorial almost all peoples of the Far East considered the tiger as a supernatural being, gifted wisdom and other human and divine qualities. Under charm of this fear and superstitious horror the peoples of the East have created a specific cult of the tiger, widespread throughout China, Japan, Mongolia, Manchuria and Korea. It is possible to find the image of this animal, together with the image of the dragon, everywhere: on pieces of the fine arts, in palaces of the governors and nobles, in fanzas of the farmers, in poor trappers' huts, on altars in temples and idol places.
In this connection, the Chinese medicine attributes a miraculous force to various parts of the tiger body, and east pharmacopoeia substantially consists of remedies and medicines made from the bones, blood, meat, sinews, gull and brains of this animal.
According to a Chinese belief, the tiger marked with hieroglyph "Wung" is the second embodiment of the human soul, expiating its own sins or those of its ancestors. The soul of the known governor or nobleman is usually embodied in the tiger. If the tiger devours people, then obviously these people were guilty and had to pass stages of the purgatory, beginning from the stomach of "knight of mountains", the name given to this predator by superstitious Chinese and vagrant hunting tribes, occupying the extreme north and east of the country. On the walls of forest idol places built by local trappers, ginseng gatherers and hunters in honor of the tiger and for sake of its propitiation, it is sometimes possible to read such inscription: - " The passerby! Stop! Light a candle of pray in honor of the mountain knight, who was a military leader in Su-Tchzhou, and be not afraid of malicious spirits living in these woods! ".
Based on fear, for the peoples of the Far East the reverence of the predator makes an important part of their religious attitude. Many Chinese and Manchurians are afraid of not only the tiger, but even of its traces, and finding them, they bow to them and put a propitiating sacrifice on the lane, such as a piece of clothes, a small coin or some grains. The one who killed a tiger, as the old trappers say, would probably be eaten by another tiger. In the place where a tiger killed the man, the Chinese pile up a heap of stones, and every passerby should add another stone; if there are no stones nearby, they put up a pole with a cloth on the end, and the passers - by hang up there new pieces from their clothes.
Half-savage inhabitants of the primeval woods of the Far East, suppressed by the fearful strength and greatness of the green nature, are even more superstitious than the Chinese and the Koreans. Understanding their helplessness against the mighty predator and seeing uselessness of struggle with it, these naive children of nature have created a special cult of the tiger, ascending to the most ancient times. This cult has kept its initial cleanliness in hunting nomads' tents of vagrant indigenous people and in forest fanzas of Manchurian trappers. The hunt on the tiger in Manchuria became a business for only newly arrived people from internal China, who had partially lost this cult and were not familiar with the ideology of the local population. The aboriginal Manchurian trappers and hunters, being under the charm of the fearful "king of the taiga ", not only think not about hunting it, but in every possible way protect it from the newcomers, Chinese and Russian, who look at it as only a favorable object of hunt. An old Manchurian trapper avoids even to call the tiger by name, and tries to speak allegorically, believing that to say the word "tiger", in Chinese, " lao-ho, lao-mao-tsy ", is dangerous and it may cause the anger of "the master" and "the lord". If a tiger devours a man, the trappers say that this man in his former life was probably a pig, as the predator found out from his smell; if not a pig, then maybe a dog, otherwise the tiger would not have touched him. A tiger claw is carried as an amulet and, according to a common belief, protects its owner from the bad man and the bad eye. The bones of the tiger fore legs' fingers bring good luck in any business, however dangerous and risky that was. The tiger's eye dried up, it would help to see what is hidden from a human eye. The tiger skin destroys malicious power working from the outside, and calms nerves of the man lying on it. One could compile a whole volume of many similar superstitions about the tiger's influence on the man. All these beliefs only point on the charm and importance which the predator had in life and outlook of the peoples of southern and east Asia.
The indigenous people of the East Siberia, the Golds, the Orotchons, and the Tungus, and also vagrant hunting tribes from Manchuria - the Solons and the Manegrs, not only esteem the tiger as of a superior being, but render divine honors and sacrifice their hunting production to it. In recent times, if the tiger was especially bold and killed some people, a human sacrifice was brought under the instructions of the superior priests - the shamans. A doomed victim would be tied up to a tree standing near a tiger track, swaddled in case it was a child. If the animal accepted a victim and devoured it, then the tree was considered as sacred, and the hunters passing by left pieces of their clothes on it. Such trees were respected by the local population and have been kept in forests of Manchuria till now, and passers - by, as the old memory, hang up on its boughs and branches long shreds from their clothes.
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