A collection of tiger stories and pictures published on my Instagram account during the current season. The first part is here.
6th January 2020
Things you do for love.
In the wild, nothing prepares you to the encounters you are about to have.
Not the hours spent eating dust tracking a predator that doesn’t want to show up, nor those spent waiting close to a waterhole hoping to hear a reliable alarm call.
And then, once in a lifetime, you experience a sighting like this. Sometimes, you draw the lucky card and end up being the silent witness to one of the most elusive species in the world’s private behaviour.
Like that day in Kanha, when two huge males for a whole day fought for the favours of a beautiful female.
14th January 2020
Not every day you get to witness a fight between two male tigers for the favours of a female.
Tiger fights are a bloody affair.
Here an exhausted Jamuntola male seems to longingly look at Dhawajhandi tigress, not even bothering to lick the blood off his paws.
Kanha, this winter.
8th January 2020
Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Tigress.
We always refer to Rudyard Kipling as the quintessential raconteur of the Central Indian jungle. Yet, he hardly set foot in either Kanha or Pench.
But why not imagining his contemporary Austrian colleague, Stefan Zweig, visiting Madhya Pradesh’s most illustrious forests ?
Had he had the opportunity of following Dhawajhandi over the last 24 hours, he might have come up with an intriguing variation of one of his most intoxicating novellas.
Just like the original plot, the tigress has been seen leaving her family to find herself in a precarious situation involving a potential mate. Could she really have been inclined to it, or was the situation just a ruse ?
With the father not around to keep the cubs safe, a female has to do whatever it takes. The risk they are incurring is of the gravest type, death.
Twenty-four hours later the unraveling of the plot : a formidable huntress, she has taken down a large sambar deer, hence providing for her family’s basic needs. The potential mate is nowhere to be seen. The threat is over, at least momentarily.
“How fantastically Nature can merge hot and cold, life and death, delight and despair together in a few brief moments”. Our writer said.
A tale of survival, fatality and legacy unfolds in the heart of the forest.
28th December 2019
In her mother’s footsteps, her father’s legacy.
Meet señorita DJ4, rising star of Kanha.
From shy subadult, the only survivor of her mother DJ’s last litter, this kid has grown into quite a bold tigress.
Still gravitating around her mother’s territory, Kanha’s new enfant prodige has been heard calling for a mate.
With her father Chota Munna not around to protect his cubs, attracting a new male could mean trouble for DJ’s current litter of three.
Who will respond to her call is yet to be established, as well as the consequences of this new union. Here, in the deep heart of Kanha’s prime tiger territory, a fine balance could be about to be disturbed.
13th December 2019
“But here, in the tide country, transformation is the rule of life: rivers stray from week to week, and islands are made and unmade in days. In other places forests take centuries, even millennia, to regenerate; but mangroves can recolonize a denuded island in ten to fifteen years. Could it be the very rhythms of the earth were quickened here so that they unfolded at an accelerated pace?”
Reading Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide and remembering the sight of “my” Sunderbans tiger. How nonchalantly and unceremoniously he got up from the channel to walk into the unscrutable darkness of the mangrove.
10th December 2019
The art of stalking.
If the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu had the opportunity to observe wild tigers, the history of warfare might have turned up quite differently.
In his 5th century BC notorious text The Art of War, he ponders about how an army’s opportunities lie in assessing the weakness of the enemy.
A tiger learns to master the delicate art of ambush since its early age. Cubs will be seen crouching and stalking small prey, often confusing this daunting task with play and curiosity.
We might find their attempts endearing, yet it is a crucial matter of survival.
For a tiger’s hunting success rate is only just about 20%. Tactical dispositions, use of energy, assessment of the prey’s weaknesses and strength are the skills this young ones will have to be trained in in the months that follow.
One fine winter morning in Central India’s forests.
4th December 2019
This is DJ4, a young tigress trying to establish her territory in the core area of Kanha Tiger Reserve.
It was very interesting to see her marking her area in a very peculiar way, as a tree hugger.
Daughter of Chota Munna, his father has many times been seen performing this particular act on the bark of the sal trees. Like father like daughter. The famous Munna, veteran of Kanha and father of Chota Munna, was also a tree hugger.
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