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Pascal Picq, François Savigny

Tigers

The tiger is charged with symbolism. In myth and poetry it represents untamed force that can strike suddenly; it can appear stealthily out of nowhere, and vanish just as suddenly. Our relative ignorance about the natural behaviour of the largest existing feline renders its symbolism even more powerful. The mystery of the tiger lies at the core of our myths, in the heart of the forest - which is also the symbol of our origins. The idea for this book came about when Pascal Picq and François Savigny met in India while shooting an episode of Ushuaïa Nature, Nicolas Hulot's popular documentary series on French television. The result is the fusion of two approaches, the photographic and the scientific. Subjects covered here include the current state of knowledge about tigers, the history of their iconography, myths and beliefs related to tigers, their relations with humans, problems of conservation and the basic issue of the protection of wild animals in an increasingly anthropocentric world. This book is also a response to an urgent situation: two subspecies of tigers have become extinct during the past twenty years, in Java and in the area around the Caspian Sea. The scarcity of scientific studies about tigers is dismaying. Photographers have gone further than ethologists in their approach and in their methods of observation. They seem to have a keener eye. Thousands of words could not bring us as close to these mysterious creatures of the wild as François Savigny's striking photographs. Pascal Picq is a senior lecturer in paleo-anthropology and prehistory at the Collège de France. François Savigny is an animal photographer and the winner of a BBC award in 1999.