VENGEANCE SERVED COLD
" Am I not Bar-Tigar, lord of all lands I roam?"
He looked down at the pulsing red jets that spurted from the throat of the boar.
" I honor you by taking your flesh and freeing your spirit, continuing the circle."
He lapped at his still twitching prey, curved hooks pointing towards his throat, called papillae, coated his tongue, ripping off layers of hide and flesh with each pass. The tender pork exposed was a delicacy he could not resist. Holding its body down firmly with his paws, he used his three inch canine teeth to rip large chunks of meat that he gulped down. At nearly six hundred pounds, ten feet long, Bar-Tigar was a magnificent Amur Tiger, master of all creatures since he had left his mother's den after his second summer. The freshly fallen snow muffled the world, and silence roamed the forest.
Bar-Tigar raised his head with its shaggy mane that had evolved to help protect him from the deadly cold in the Siberian forests. His sensitive ears swiveled on his head.
“Brother owl, what makes you take flight during the day?” he thought upon hearing the bird’s nearly silent flight from its roost almost two hundred yards away. Listening closely he could hear the approaching bays of three animals.
“ Man’s wolf slaves.” the tiger’s lip curled in disdain.
His nose pulled in the icy air, comparing it to thousands of smells never forgotten. He paused as he found one he had smelled before…man. His huff emitted a cloud of condensation in the frigid air. Recognizing the scent, his chest vibrated with a barely audible growl.
" What brings this man smell to my forest?”
Nose twitching, he searched for evidence of an intruder. He froze at attention as the faintest metallic click broke the silence. Listening, looking, he scoured the area around him. Then with eyes six times stronger than humans, he noticed a break in the pattern of branches, and within that break, two human eyes peered out at him. He stared and his tail flicked in anticipation.
“ Ah, the man-beast thinks he can hide from Bar-Tigar, Lord of all he purveys! How puny he is and out of place in my world. He tears away swaths of my forest to make his den.” Never had he seen these creatures in his youth, but now that he ruled, they had started to intrude on his kingdom.
Bar-Tigar the Magnificent was unconcerned about the matters of men. He had no idea of the upheaval in the lives of the humans who had so recently appeared. His concern now was his meal, and he returned to devouring his catch with a low threatening growl in his throat that said;
“Dare not disturb me fellow creature. You look me in the eye so I have lost my element of surprise, otherwise my appetite might be sated with human today. You know not to run because then, oh yes, the game would be afoot! Now leave me to my meal.”
The report of the shotgun shook the trees so that it was as if the snow was falling again. With a bound Bar-Tigar dove back into the forest under cover of the sudden white-out. He ran along paths that only he could see, a misty orange wisp that was gone before it had come. A hive of hornets buzzed in his flank, helping to fuel his adrenaline.
He sought the shelter of a thicket bowed under the snow's weight, and rolled himself on the ground beneath. Nuzzling his wound he let the snow help staunch the bleeding, After a time, satisfied that he had not been followed, he left the security of the brush.
“ Oh man beast! Man beast! Come out, come out, wherever you are. After I finish my lunch, I think I will finish you!”
The tiger swung wide of his original tracks, knowing they would have been followed, and headed back to his kill. When he reached the site he scanned the ground with his nose, a growl rising in his throat.
“How dare you! You dare to interrupt my lunch, and then you…you…steal it!?”
He frantically nosed the remains around, but only useless offal was left to mock him.
He raised his head and, enraged, roared his disdain across the Taiga Forest. He had proven his right to rule a week ago and dined on the bear that he had defeated. But that meal was only a memory, and the few bites that he had managed before he was attacked were not enough to fulfill his needs. It took mere moments for the tiger to find the man trail. He knew that one way or the other at the end of that trail he would eat.
Many miles later, Bar-Tigar came across a cabin deep in the woods. He smelled man and man wolf, but more importantly, he smelled his boar. He growled low in his throat as he discovered that the kill was hidden in a man structure outside of the cabin,
“Man has no respect for my might? Does he think he can hide what is mine from what is me? I am the…mighty!”
In a flurry of fury the tiger tore the structure to splinters and claiming what was rightfully his, he trotted proudly into the safety of the forest to feed. He tore ravenously on the meat until only his hunger remained. His hunger for food, and revenge.
The barks of the man wolves in the distance woke the tiger from his cat nap.
“Ahhh, he returns to his den! Now I shall teach him lessons he has never imagined! May his ancestors shudder at the manner of his death. I will return the pain he gave me a thousand fold!”
Bar-Tigar crept cautiously up to the clearing around the cabin. The dogs, sensing danger nearby, began to bark frantically.
“You can not hide in your den forever, puny man. I will tear it to pieces while you are frozen with terror!”
The mighty beast crept across the grass. Suddenly a slit in the cabin wall spit fire from a rifle barrel that had just appeared. Bar-Tigar felt as if his back leg had been kicked out from underneath him, but driven by instinct he dodged into the woods before a second shot rang out. He ran, three legged he ran, deep into his forest. A lone roar of pain and rage was all he allowed himself. Animals for miles scattered to safety at the apex predators bellow.
After the sun had set,and the shadows had secured the forest in their stealthy embrace, the tiger rose awkwardly from his berth, shaking off new fallen snow. He headed back to the cabin. No man wolves barked at his approach, and there was no light shining from the cabin. He was unaware and unconcerned that the man had fled to a neighboring cabin to plead for a ride back to his home. Disappointed that he would have to wait until morning, the man had headed back to the cabin.
The door proved no obstacle for the mighty cat. He rose on his hind legs and with two paws pushed in the barrier. It slammed to the cabin floor, announcing his majesty's arrival. Sniffing warily he scanned the interior with powerful night vision. He marked the entryway with a stream of hot urine.
“Where do you hide, little thief? I smell you all around me! These things that clutter your den reek of you. If I can not destroy you right now, then I will destroy your smell!”
The king of the forest flew into a rage, destroying the inside of the cabin with tooth and claw. Nothing that held the man's scent escaped his wrath. Exiting through the open doorway, the big cat circled the house looking for the man. Finding nothing fresh he chose a spot in front of the cabin and settled into the drifting snow. He now had a clean line of sight to the cabin door and the path that led to it. He waited.
The first to come upon him was one of the dogs. He raised his head from the scent ready to howl but was cut off mid-bark by a black and orange blur. The tiger merely snapped the dog’s neck mid stride and let him fall, soundlessly returning to his sentry post. He didn’t have to wait for long as the man returned and walked towards the cabin.
Bar-Tigar preferred an ambush from behind and a quick kill. This was the honorable way of the forest, but this man had no honor. The mighty tiger leapt, all of his massive weight striking the man from behind. As quickly as a skilled barber he raked the claws of both front paws across the face of his enemy, scraping one of his eyes from its socket. He rolled off and stood over the man, roaring at the now screaming man laying on the ground. The wounded animal stood over his fallen enemy and emitted an ear splitting roar. A tiger’s roar is potent with infrasound that is below 20 Hertz, and can’t be heard by humans. But its low frequency waves disrupt and disorientate its prey.
“SILENCE! Will your pitiful screams delay my digestion of you? I think not. If nothing else you have learned a valuable lesson. Don’t steal…another’s…meal…” said the tiger.
But all the man could hear was himself being eaten, bite by bite. After a time, silence again roamed the forest.
As of this writing there are less than 400 Amur, or Siberian, tigers left in the wilds of East Asia.
The unfortunate hunter in this true story was Vladimir Markov, a poacher. In an ironic twist of fate, three members of the organization “Inspection Tiger” were tasked with hunting down the animal. “Inspection Tiger” is an animal protection group dedicated to protecting those tigers that are left. It took thirteen shots to bring down the mighty Bar-Tigar.