In Search of the Tiger’s Roar

New episode from the Nature Series 5 by BBC Radio 4.

Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson travels to India, to capture the sounds of the forest and the spine tingling roar of a Bengal Tiger.

Chris is leading a team of wildlife sound recordists on this quest. They travel to Corbett National Park which was established in 1936 as Asia’s first National Park. It stretches over some 1300 sq km. in the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand.

The park is named after the legendary hunter, naturalist and author Edward James Corbett, better known as ‘Jim Corbett’. Author of ‘Man-Eaters of Kumaon’, Corbett spent many years killing tigers and leopards before concern about their future and that of their habitat, led him to playing a key role in establishing the National Park.

Today the Park is home to a rich and diverse range of wildlife including over 100 Bengal tigers. To help them, the team have several local guides; who are not only skilled in the art of tracking tigers; knowing what signs to look for; like scats on the ground, scratch marks on the trees, and perhaps most importantly, knowing how to listen to the forest and use the alarm calls of other animals such as the peacocks and samba deer to help track the tigers. It might sound easy enough but as Chris and the team discover, it’s far more difficult than it sounds.

In their search for tigers, they play a game of ‘Grandmother’s footsteps’ with a pair of elephants, encounter crocodiles in a river, are puzzled by something that sounds like rain but isn’t, and record the unusual barks of Hanaman Langurs in the forest. As for recording the roar of a tiger, they need skill, patience and, a bit of good luck.


Next episode: Painting with Sound

Miguel Isaza M

Listener, speaker.