Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Ranthambore papa tiger takes motherhood seriously
In a rare sight in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, a male tiger has been spotted ‘fathering’ two orphaned cubs. The cubs had gone missing soon after the mother tigress had died in February. The forest officials took a sigh of relief recently when they found the cubs in the safe custody of the male tiger-T-25, believed to be their father.
“Such behaviour of the tiger has been unheard of,” said PCCF Rajasthan, RN Mehrotra.
The two cubs are being reared in the wild under close monitoring of the forest department. A forest staff has been deputed full time to keep watch on the cubs. They are largely being fed with goat meat by the forest department.
Mother Tigress T-5 from Kachida valley died in February after suffering from maggot-infested wounds below her tail. When the cubs disappeared after the death of the mother, worst was feared about their survival. But the officials had a pleasant surprise when they found the cubs in perfectly safe condition with the male tiger.
The known behaviour of male tigers is that of killing and preying upon the cubs, especially to take away the mother for mating. However, contrary to the above, “this unique sense of acceptance of the male tiger towards the cubs, is indeed amazing,” pointed out Mehrotra.
“This has led us to believe that he could be their father,” said Mehrotra. Incidentally, T-5 tigress had been seen mating with him, but Mehrotra said no certainty can be established about their parentage.
Much to the surprise of the experts, it was found that T-25 has even reduced its territory, confining itself largely in Kachida valley to ensure protection of the cubs. Further, the food served to the cubs by the forest department is not snatched away by the male tiger either. On the contrary, they have been seen sharing kills made by the latter.
“We are yet lot to learn on the behaviour of the tigers,” pointed out Mehrotra. They are nocturnal animals and what ever activities have so far been recorded have largely been done during day. But this time, due to the extensive use of camera trapping and “intimate monitoring of these tigers, we could discover this new trait,” he added.