Ranthambore Tiger Family Meal – Ranthambore National Park
An account of a night long observation in the light of full moon of a Ranthambore National Park tigress caring for her young would be an aptepilouge to this essay on the tiger. A well hidden sambhar kill by a tigress was located along a nullah in Kanha A makeshifts thatch hideout was erected across the nullah about 50 yards from the bush where the sambhar carcase was lying hidden. Nothing remarkable happened until two hour after desk when the copious chital alarm call signified the approach of a predator. The tigress appeared in the nullah bed some 15 minute later heading towards the kill after inspecting her kill she sat alongside the bush for another 15 minute. A picture of beauty moon light glinting in her bright eyes apparently assessing the security environment for her cubs she then rose and disappeared into the forest An hour and a half later sambhar and barking deer alarms were heard in the distance The tigress reappeared on the scene in another half an hour and patrolled the nullah bed up and down for about 15 minute Then standing near the bush where the sambhar carcase lay She gave two short and muted response apparently from the cubs the tigress then again went in to the forest and reappeared at the edge 10 minute later. Having reassured herself after a brief survey of the scene she beckoned the cubs by barely audible call.
Two very young cubs the size of a large domestic cat came out and skirted around the mother rubbing themselves on her flank as if nudging her to take them went inside the bush and dragged the kill out and look a few bites not so much as to feed out to expose fresh tender flesh for the cub to eat. The cubs fed on the carcase for about 15 minute where after the tigress again helped them by opening up fresh meat. After a little while the cub having satiated themselves came to the mother. She licked them as if demonstrating to them how to clean themselves. The cubs then how to clean by themselves. Later they became very playful and the three engaged in a mutual display of affection by licking rubbing and fondling each other bodies.
The mother would beat her tail from one point to the other and the cubs would pounce on it and try to grab it. Occasionally the cubs would come up on the low branches of the tree on the bank and then jump down into the send below. Such play went on for most of the night, In the early hours the tigress herself fed on the carcass for oven an hour and intermittently the cubs joined her. At least an hour before sunrise the tigress disappeared in to the jungle with the cubs and until sunrise there was nothing more to it. As the morning sun peeped over the tree line the moist sand in the nullah provided evidence in its markings of the love of a devoted mother for her offspring.