BBC cameras capture rare glimpse of mountain tigers

A A A

A British film crew has recorded rare footage of tigers high in the mountains of Bhutan, giving hope to conservationists who plan to link Asia's shrinking populations of the big cats.

A team from the BBC's Natural History Unit spent six weeks trying to film the elusive animals. One of the cameramen, Gordon Buchanan, said he was reduced to tears by the grainy images captured by his lens. "It was beyond words [and] pretty overwhelming," he added. "The purpose of the expedition was to film evidence of tigers living in Bhutan so all the effort and everything we did came down to a few seconds of footage."

The documentary team wedged hidden cameras into gullies and trees during their expedition to the Himalayan kingdom. They filmed Bengal tigers prowling at 13,000ft above sea level, more than twice the height of Ben Nevis. Their remote existence means that the world's biggest cat, Panthera tigris, may be able to survive away from human encroachment. Tigers once roamed from Turkey to eastern Russia but their numbers have dwindled by 95 per cent since 1900 because of hunting, loss of habitats and poaching. As few as 3,000 remain in the wild and are under threat of extinction.

In an effort to create a genetically viable tiger population, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Panthera Foundation hope to establish a 5,000-mile corridor spanning eight countries from Bhutan to Burma which would allow tigers to move freely across their largest remaining block of habitat. Bhutan has one of the smallest tiger populations, estimated at between 67 and 81 adults. Mr Buchanan said his team was convinced the tigers they saw were breeding, and that there must be cubs in the mountains that potentially gave the species a future. "I have spent time working with tigers in India and looking for them in Russia and they face problems pretty much everywhere," he added. "But Bhutan is so wild poachers would find it very difficult to hunt them there."

Alan Rabinowitz, a biologist, said: "Tigers are thought of as jungle creatures yet we now know they can live and breed at this altitude, which is a safer habitat for them. Bhutan was the missing link in this tiger corridor."

n 'Lost Land Of The Tiger' starts at 9pm on BBC1 tomorrow (except Scotland).

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Unified - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Consultant - Furniture

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a besp...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum