Entangled, mangrove forest on the Bay of Bengal is the kingdom of a creature rarely seen by humans. One of the most efficient predators on Earth, this animal is feared as a killer and a man-eater – the legendary swamp tiger. These tigers are so elusive that all attempts to track them in these impenetrable swamps ended in failure.
More than a decade ago, cameraman Mike Herd captured the swamp tiger on film for the first time. It was an extraordinary breakthrough, the first glimpse into the secret life of the least known tiger in the world – the swamp tiger of the Bangladeshi Sundarbans.
This first tiger footage was tantalizing and all-too-brief, but for Mike, it was enough to stir a passion. He resolved to return and unravel the secrets of this mysterious creature. The Sundarbans are remote and dangerous, so Mike will need an armed guard day and night. Somewhere in those 6,000 square miles, 10,000 square kilometres, are a few hundred tigers, yet the only way to track them is on foot.
Four mighty rivers rise in the Himalayas and pass through Bangladesh, dividing into small streams and channels to pour into the sea in the Bay of Bengal. They form an intricate mangrove delta, a collection of sandbanks and mud held together by entangled roots.
Flood waters carry human victims downstream; corpses are washed onto the muddy banks of the Sundarbans giving some tigers the taste for human flesh. Every year up to a hundred people are killed by tigers, yet for the poor, there is no alternative. The fishermen spend months onboard their boats trying to avoid the bandits who steal their catch and their belongings.
On the muddy bank, there is the first tell-tale trace of the tiger – a recent set of pugmarks leading deep into the forest. Then more evidence – huge claw marks on a tree. The air is thick with a pungent smell of tiger. Mike believes it must be a tigress.