Through their enthusiastic lenses, the secret splendours of the forest and wilderness were exquisitely revealed to a television audience of millions. Conservation concerns were a recurrent theme – tigers and rhinos in Chitwan, leopards in Dudhwa and elephants in Sri Lanka.
Mike Price was a balding and bouncy Brit, diminutive and dedicated. Night after night he sat in the camouflaged machan set high on the ridge beside a tiger-likely trail, waiting with his camera ready. Each morning he would return for breakfast, weary and despondent – until the day when he appeared, still gasping and hopping with excitement. It was May, and his bare legs were caked in sweat and dust, the heavy camera case slung across his khaki shoulders.
When he had calmed down enough for us to understand him, Mike described the thrill of a tiger appearing silently out of the grass on the path below him – “stripes that moved” in the dawn light. At last, patience rewarded. It was a young male, and with the camera running he realised with some alarm that the purring sound was making it curious – the striped ears flickered with interest as it advanced up the bank. Mike had to remove the camera from the tripod as the tiger came closer and closer, until its face was peering through the slit window of the hide, separated only by a flimsy wall of canvas.