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Tigers: A celebration of life - Andy Rouse

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

LOOKING at Tigers: A celebration of life by top wildlife photographer Andy Rouse, it’s difficult to believe that it was put together in just two weeks. But such is Rouse’s passion for tigers and his desire to make a difference – and here think conservation – that the impossible became a reality.

By his own admission, Rouse loves tigers; so much so, in fact, that seeing one in the wild invariably takes his breath away. It’s something few of us will ever experience for ourselves and, as things stand, future generations will be denied altogether – simply because there are now fewer than 4500 free roaming tigers left in the world.

So, with time running out for this magnificent animal, Rouse has self-published Tigers: A celebration of life to coincide not only with the Chinese ‘Year of the Tiger’ but also with a special conservation awareness programme for 2010.

The result is this book of stunning images – or what Rouse modestly calls his ‘best tiger images’ – that reveal the tiger in all its glory – or otherwise, as the case may be. For a warts-and-all image, there’s none better than that of B2, a huge male tiger, licking his wounds after a major fight with a rival.

But what I especially like about Rouse’s work is the accompanying text. It takes you behind the camera and into the world of the tiger, so you know exactly what’s going on.

A case in point is the opening sequence, shot over a 12-hour period before Machali and her three 18-month old cubs went their separate ways. It’s also a fine example of animal behaviour that is seldom seen in the wild, much less photographed. Not surprisingly, one of the images in this particular sequence was awarded Highly Commended in the prestigious Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 2009.

Tigers: A celebration of life is also filled with interesting facts as well as the photographer’s real-life experiences, all told in his inimitable style and with his wonderful sense of humour, which makes it a joy to read.

The final section of the book is devoted to conservation and includes an essay by Sarah Christie, a tiger conservation expert at the Zoological Society of London and 21st Century Tiger; a look at the role of tigers in zoos; responsible ecotourism and, perhaps more importantly, how you can help.

And that’s not as difficult as you might think. Simply buy this beautiful book, for a proportion of the profits are being donated to tiger conservation organisations such as the aforementioned 21st Century Tiger. Besides, as well as doing your bit, you’ll have a book you can treasure for years to come.

Also by Andy Rouse, Concepts of Nature