I heard once that when an older animal feels his time is drawing near, he will seek a secluded place to spend his final moments.
Perhaps, to spare his loved ones or to retain a sense of dignity. But why question the motive when the result remains the same.
The day I saw the tiger enter the woods without the rest of his pride, I hoped what I heard was just a myth.
The woods, with all it's tranquility can be just as dark and dangerous. As the saying goes, when a person returns safely from danger, they are out of the woods. This makes me question the true motives of Henry David Thoreau when he deliberately chose to live in the woods. But again, why question this possible myth.
The mighty tiger found a sturdy tree and curled up at the base. Slowly he began to drift away. The pride was left bewildered, confused, and too afraid to enter the dark and dangerous woods. They were hopeless without their fearless leader.
That night they mustered up enough courage to go into the woods. They found the tiger in what appeared to be a very deep sleep. Fearing the worst, they began to poke and prod at him. He did not stir. Still bewildered and confused they returned to the edge of the forest.
This routine continued for the next couple of days. Each time was unsuccessful, but they didn't give up hope. Every little rustle of a leaf or crackle of a branch had them frantically rushing back into the woods. " I think the tiger is awake! The tiger must be awake!", they shouted.
Mostly these were just the sounds of the forest floor accepting the weight of the tiger's assumed fate.
On the sixth day a couple of them were preparing to leave. They had not given up entirely, when all of a sudden they heard a mighty roar. In the distance they saw their fearless leader slowly coming out of the woods.
Yet, there was something different about the old tiger. I cannot know for sure. I think it had something to do with motive.
At the time I saw the pride gather around him, I was certain what I heard was just a myth.
This tiger had a lot more roar left in him.