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1-Page Summary of The Tiger
Vancouver-based American author John Vaillant’s non-fiction book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (2010) tells the true story of a man eating tiger that killed many people in Russia. Alongside the story about this tiger, he also talks about the history of his region as well as how science has tried to deal with it. He also talks about environmental issues which threaten these animals’ existence.
A woodsman named Vladimir Markov was found dead outside his house. An investigation showed that he had been attacked by a tiger, which is surprising because tigers rarely attack humans in the Primorye region of Russia unless provoked. The state’s wildlife organization was called in to investigate with scientific methods and local superstitions about tigers.
The Primorye region of Russia is a vast, sparsely populated area in the east of Russia that’s about the size of Washington state. The human population there is desperately poor, but it’s rich in biodiversity. Four separate bioregions meet in this region: taiga (Siberian forest), Mongolian steppe-lands, subtropical jungles and boreal forests of the Arctic circle. Scientists have named this area the “Transbaikalian Province” because its longest river, Amur River, is also one of the world’s longest undammed rivers.
The Primorye is home to a large number of animals. A species that is particularly dangerous because it preys on humans is the dhole, which belongs to the dog family. Another animal that’s found in this region is the Amur tiger, which has evolved over time to survive in Arctic conditions and can also live comfortably in jungles. The Amur tiger has been described as an apex predator because it doesn’t need any other predators or prey; it eats both wolves and bears with ease. It can weigh up to 600 pounds and measure six feet long from nose to tail tip. Its paws are as big as dinner plates, while its teeth are about two inches long.
Having introduced the region and its tigers, Vaillant focuses on the dead Markov. The wildlife agency investigates to find out what happened to him. They conclude that he provoked the tiger by stealing meat from a boar it had killed. The investigators also learned that the tiger was seeking revenge for this action.
After the funeral of Markov, a friend of the deceased goes into the taiga alone. He doesn’t come back for days, so a search party is organized. They find his bloody clothes and just enough human remains to fit in a shirt pocket.
Vaillant tells parts of his story from the tiger’s point of view, slowly building a complex portrait of the animal. He imagines what it was thinking, “Building on its success with cabin stakeouts and with mattresses, he combined the two here in a way that also warmed him in the process.”
The book then follows Yuri Trush, who is the head of a tiger preservation agency. He’s tasked with finding and killing this tiger after it killed a man in his village. He uses his professional expertise as well as local folklore to track down the tiger and kill him. In the end, he succeeds at doing so but puts himself in danger while doing so.
The Tiger is a book about man’s relationship with nature and how it has changed over time. It also talks about the dangers of humans to the environment, as well as animals like tigers. The author uses stories from Moby Dick and Jaws, along with his own personal experience, to highlight these points.