A cool wind swept pass her whiskers as dawn broke. Standing at a healthy one metre, she ruled her turf with a mysterious aura. For many years, her image was a symbol of bravery and courage in countless of cultures, and until now, she bears the pride of any tiger, fearsome and unpredictable.
Her life was never a walk in the park though. Everyday is another hunt for her, and food never comes easy. But today, she can smell easy prey, the smell of blood lingering in the air, a sign of a wounded animal. She could not count on sight, sunlight barely cut through the thick growth of the forest; moreover it was still the break of dawn, so instinct guided her through the wines and groves.
‘The smell’s becoming more intense,’ she thought to herself, as she navigates her way toward her target. And as soon as she felt her prey was within her reach, she slowed her pace and lowered her body. Crawling and breathing heavily, she prepared to pounce on her unsuspecting prey, a mouse deer she thought, or maybe a primate that fell from the trees above.
As she drew closer to inspect, she saw a lifeless body of a boar lying among some leaves, scattered all over the forest floor. The carcass was still fresh, blood oozing out from punctures on its body. ‘Strange, what predator leaves their food unattended?’ She thought to herself. And indeed it is strange; the puncture wounds appeared around the creature’s abdomen, an awkward place for any predator to attack.
Instincts told her that something was amiss, but hunger over-ruled that warning. Her last meal was already two days ago and all she had was a young mouse deer. She moved toward the carcass, opening her incisors ready to tear away its flesh.
SNAP! A snare had bitten into one of her limbs. She let out a cry of agony that had the birds on the trees above flying away in confusion. As she struggled to pry of her limb away from the menacing trap, blood started flowing out of her wound. She had never saw such a strong jaw in the jungle before, as even during fights for habitat, no other tiger had ever manage to bite through her hide.
Minutes pass, and her hopes of escaping diminishes. After each struggle, she could feel the snare bite through her bone, slowly fracturing her limb bit by bit. Pain from the wound triggered something she never felt before. Small droplets of water flowed out of her eyes, tears of pain and fear, something she never thought she would experience.
Suddenly, out of the bushes came a rustling sound. The tigress could hear footsteps heading toward her, so she readied herself to defend against anything or anyone who tries to take advantage of her. Then, out of the bushes sprung two men, both wielding strange silver pipes about a metre long. At that moment she remembered what her mother used to tell her, ‘beware the creature who bares a pipe in hand, he kills all that stand in his way without touching it, all but with a point of his pipe.’
These men were poachers, greedy for the exotic and rare. One of them said, ‘this cat’s a big one, what say you we might be able to sell it for about 10,000 to 20,000 dollars maybe?’ ‘That’s if we get away with it! But the trucks aren’t here yet, we caught it too early,’ replied the other.
‘Well, split her into parts and hide it till they come then!’
She knew not a word they say, but she had a bad feeling. The two men drew closer, and she exclaimed to herself, ‘fools, do they know not what my claw can smite?’ But as she raised her claw to strike, a loud “bang” pierced through the thick growth of the forest. She had been shot at her paw. Another limb wounded, and she continued to cry in agony. She could feel her paw bone shattered into pieces. She was immobilized, and she knew her end was near, but still she was persistent to fight until the end of it all.
One of the men tried to grab her unwounded limb, but with a strong push, she sent the man falling. As she did that, the other man gave her neck a hard blow. With that she was left paralyzed and half unconscious. She then thought to herself, let the pain end, and just kill me. But no, these men were heartless; they wanted her fresh but immobilized, so they did not kill her. One of them then took out a knife, and he slowly drove the sharp edge toward the tigress’ neck and made a deep cut around the neck skin, leaving her screaming in her heart with sheer pain. He then drove his fingers deep into the cut and gave a hard tug, peeling off her hide downward. He was trying to skin the creature alive!
It was torture, inhumane, cold-blooded, even a snake could not stomach this sight. The tigress’ skin being pulled out of her as her trapped limb was pulled at an unbearable pressure. Her body was motionless, but her heart was stressed to a point where any living being would yield and break. As the last bits of her skin came off, all her muscles were bleeding and exposed to the dirt and soil of the ground. The two men then released her from the snare. Soon they both took out parang knives and severed her four limbs. By now, she was near lifeless, but the pain still tormented her.
The two men continued their heartless deed by hooking her up a butcher claw and dragging her skinless body across the rough and muddy jungle floor into their hiding place.
What happens beyond there is unimaginable pain and agony. Soon, the two men removed the organs from the once magnificent creature and hided them around different loading spots around the forest. They even hired some natives to help traffic the parts and pieces of the tigress.
Such horrific things happen on a creature that had to struggle everyday to live. Why should man need such a thing to happen on not just tigers, but many other endangered animals in the wild? We invade their habitat, take their food source, and now we take their lives. Is the pain worth the products that “improve” our already easy life? When the buying stops, the killing can too.