Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Meeting deadly animals

“Did I just see a tiger?”
I thought whilst rolling down a long hill, on route to a bridge crossing a wide tropical river. My friend Luc St Denis stood in the beginning of the bridge waving wildly. When I got close to him, he whispered:
“Did you see the tiger?”
“Yes, i did, it was walking round and round, he didn´t even look at me. 3 meters away?”
Luc agreed. Now, I have been dreaming about seeing a tiger all my grown up life. It is a magnificent cat, which can weigh up to 450 kgs. The Siberian version. We were in Malaysia, surrounded by the rain forest of Taman Negara. On bikes.
“I need a photo” , I said, took the camera and started walking back to where I saw the tiger. Luc whispered loudly that I shouldn´t do it.
“I will outrun him and jump in the river if he comes after me”.
A foolish thought since tigers are not only deadly fast but great swimmers to. I walked up to the place where I had seen the tiger, tried to walk like the most silent fella on eart, then I saw the tiger. He had crept in behind some thick grass and bush. I took me photo that you see here and walked backwards down to the bridge again.
A specialist in tigers later told me that the tiger was probably on the verge of death because of having caught malaria, which had affected small, his hearing and life.
“You were lucky” , she said.
I guess there is a fair amount of lucky whether things goes good or bad when travelling. A few months later I cycled in to Kanha National Park in India and a just after entering the park, a park ranger passed me in a jeep and offered me a ride to a lodge. this time I said yes, I was down in the 187th bout of a new gut rot. He helped me up with the bike, we set off and a minute later two huge and incredibly beautiful tigers came out of the forest just behind us and crossed the road. Healthy young tigers.
Two days later in India I just escaped death when a mother buffalo got offended that I stopped and took a photo of her kid, holed up in a basket of a bicycle. I was saved because I just made it in between a bus and truck. We are talking half a meter. Buffalos can weigh upp to 600 kgs.
I had near calls with Australian snakes and once when I crossed South Alligator river by carrying my bike and stuff over, once I did the last haul of gear, I saw a crocodile 10 meters away on the bank of the river. A mum lying on eggs. Luck again?
I have been attacked twice by wild animals. Once in Africa, a big male baboon. That is another story. And once along a dusty road in the great Gulf Savannah of Australia. I loved my three months there!
I loved it because it was relly good bush, huge distances, little people and those you met, fantastic. I used to fill up water at old stations and then set camp an hour before darkness. The heat, the sweat, the stench of the red dusty road, I used half a small cooking pot to wash of the worst dust. I did that after putting up camp. Since I was used to snakes using my tent to get some shade, I always checked my surroundings before I took the tent down. This time, I missed one visitor.
I took the tent down as always, a VE24 from North Face, and to get rid off the dust, I shook the dust out and when I did it I saw something fly up in the air and suddenly land on my tigh. A spider. Fangs up. I was almost sure it was some kind of tarantula. And with fangs up, poisonous for sure, but how much? I knew if they went for aggressive attack, one could die. So how to get the spider of my tigh with out it believing me being a threat? I took one of the tent poles, kept my leg not moving at all, folded it together, made a deadly weapon out of it and I knew I had to hit the spider so it went of my leg with out it using its fangs. I close dmy eyes, concentrated and then…hit will full force! Spider fell of, my tigh was painful as hell, but I realized it was because I ad hit it. Before the spider could move I killed it with the pole. A 112 times. I saw another one, same species on the other side of the tent. Took a photo and left it alive.
Just another fun day on the bike. This happened all whilst cycling from New Zealand to Cairo, 1994-96.

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