The Elusive Bengal Tiger

For more than 2 million years Tigers have roamed our planet.

These are the world’s largest cats, and throughout time have been a symbol of power and awe.

Indian mythology tells tales of tigers fighting dragons, bringing rain to drought-stricken areas, as well as having the ability to heal.

Fewer than 4,000 Tigers still remain, down from the 100,000 cats that existed as recently as 1900. This decline of an astounding 96% is attributed mostly to deforestation, overpopulation of humans and poaching. They are hunted as trophies, as well as for their body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Certainly, this sounds grim, however, there is good news in that tiger populations are rebounding, especially with India’s Bengal Tiger.

The Bengal Tiger is the most numerous of the five remaining tiger subspecies, with more than 2,500 left in the wild. In fact, the Bengal tiger accounts for more than 50% of the total worldwide wild tiger population, most thriving inside the tiger preserves and National Parks of India. Because of this, India’s National Parks are the premier destination to photograph tigers in the world. Backcountry Journeys Tiger Safari: India is a brand new, safari-style wildlife photography tour that will take us to Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks, where tiger populations have not only stabilized since the 1970s but have begun to grow and are now the densest on earth. Yet they are still at a very high risk of becoming extinct, so they are still classified as endangered.

Bengal tigers grow head-to-body to an average of five to six feet with a two-foot to three-foot tail. weighing in at between 240-550 lbs. Their average lifespan in the wild is between eight and 10 years. And they are STRONG!  Bengal tigers have a ton of muscles making them heavier than the world’s second largest cat and unofficial “King of the Jungle,” the Lion.

Unlike other cats, tigers enjoy swimming and have evolved to have webbed paws that help with their semi-aquatic lifestyle.

Their coats are unmistakable with their characteristic orange coat and black stripes, although some are born with a white coat and blue eyes. No two Bengal tigers have the same arrangement of stripes. In this way, their stripes are like fingerprints in humans.

The Bengal Tiger is a carnivore and will dine on whatever meat is available in the area in which they live. They live alone and are night hunters who travel great distances in order to find buffalo, deer, wild pigs, and other large mammals. Lying in wait, camouflaged by their striped coats, they stalk their prey before attacking with a quick spring and fatal pounce! It is not uncommon for a tiger to eat as much as 60 pounds in a night.

Females give birth to litters of two to six cubs, which they raise on their own as the males will typically leave. Cubs aren’t able to hunt on their own until they are 18 months old, so they’ll remain with their mothers for two to three years before setting out on their own. Tigers do not live or hunt in packs.

Seeing a tiger in real life is an experience that inspires so many, and photographers lust after, as tigers are incredible photographic subjects. They are beautiful and a symbol of strength and wonderment. Working to not only find these beasts but then to create images that accurately portray their stories is what Backcountry Journeys India Safari is all about. So, join us this year in India, on one of the world’s most unique photo safaris, as we search for the elusive Bengal Tiger! Be sure to book your spot on our February 27 – March 9, 2020 tour!

Kenton Krueger







Kenton Krueger grew up and spent the first 33 years of his life in the corn country of Omaha, Nebraska. After studying aviation at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Aviation Institute, he “conned” his way into the newsroom at the award-winning Omaha World-Herald where for 3+ years he wrote and photographed news articles on a variety of topics such as community events, travel and even mixed martial arts for the sports department. Yet something was missing. While on backpacking trips to Grand Teton and Grand Canyon National Parks in the mid-2000’s he was quick to realize that the wild lands of the western United States stoked a fire in his heart as nothing else could. This realization led to a relocation to Flagstaff, Arizona, and he hasn’t looked back. He has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, a former pilot, newspaper photographer, and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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