By Nathalie Bonney

OVER 220 individual safaris, lasting a total of 660 hours: that’s how long it took wildlife photographer Andy Rouse to capture a tiger making a kill

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Photographer Andy Rouse snapped the rarely seen moment a female tiger spotted, and caught her prey

Andy has spent the last few years visiting Ranthambore National park, Rajasthan, India,  to collect images for his second book on tigers Generation Tiger. 

Until this point, the UK-based photographer had failed to capture what he referred to as “the holy grail” of photographing tigers.

The tigress perked up, and prepared to run as if she had seen something

He said: “I have tried repeatedly to capture a tiger making a kill in the open, which is the holy grail of tiger shots because it’s so rare.”

“It is like winning the animal lottery of wildlife photography to get shots of a kill in the open, in the sun where the light is right. It was a superb day.”

In a flash the tigress was on her feet, catching up with the Sambar deer

“It was definitely one of the highlights of my year seeing a wild tiger kill in the open and actually managing to photograph it too!”

After making an initial three-month trip to take photos for his first book on the majestic creatures, the tiger enthusiast has gone back to Ranthambore on countless trips to observe the tigers.

The deer struggled to run away from the tiger on the rough terrain

Flying out for two-week stints, the safari drives lasted three hours at a time and were completed in the early morning and evening hours to avoid the hostile daytime temperatures, which could reach over 100 degrees Celsius.

The photographer and his six-man team came close to observing a kill on several occasions but luck was never on their side.

The tigress used her powerful strength to leap, and catch the deer

He said: “You’ve just got to come round the corner at the right time when the tiger is waiting to make a kill. An awful lot of things have got to come together for it to go perfectly.”

“I’ve had many times watching a tiger in what I would call the perfect kill situation and then for whatever reason they didn’t go for it. We were all sat there waiting, thinking ‘why aren’t you doing it?’ And then when they do go for it the chance of seeing a kill in the open is very low.”

The tigress went straight for the deer's throat to efficiently kill it

On the day of the kill, Andy was following female tiger Noor T39 (all tigers in the reserve are numbered), along a stone valley when she suddenly stopped and sat down, putting her legs underneath her.

He said: “I knew from working with cats that this was a sign she was getting ready to run.”

The tigress dragged her prey to cooler areas in a cave

“She gazed intently at us and just as I turned to see what she was looking at I heard some stones falling and saw a Sambar deer appear from the bushes.”

From static to full-speed in a moment, the tigress quickly overtook the deer, before using her strength and size to destroy her prey.

The deadly hunter shows off her huge teeth

Surrounded by boulders and on an uneven, rocky riverbed, the Sambar Deer stood no chance against the power and speed of the Tigress.

“The tiger was bouncing from boulder to boulder and just grabbed the deer and pulled it down. From start to finish it was over in 10 minutes.”

As an experienced wildlife photographer Andy had seen plenty of hunts in the past but the ruthless brutality of the tiger’s kill surprised even him.

“I’ve seen lots of kills but when you see a tiger kill it’s the awesome power and focus of the tiger that gets you. My adrenaline was pumping. Nothing prepared me for the raw savagery of the tiger charge. She was a bold and confident hunter.”