Monday, May 23, 2016

Mother Tiger Epitome of Womenhood

Ruth & Clive Williams UK  
Photographer Guests: Courtyard House Kanha

We had searched the tigress and her cubs thoroughly for many days but with partial success. My earlier guest was not interested in a glimpse at all. Well that is what we could get. The family was often seen near waterholes in depth of Kanha forest but would be conspicuous by its absence in between.      

Anyway we could not get a proper sight during our last tiger safaris.

Tigresses are possessive and protective mothers and keep shifting from one place to another. This is done to teach cubs to survive in the vast ecosystem and get familiar with things around. Other reasons for regular shifts are to avoid male tigers who have not sired the cubs, avoid other predators, and yes the prey as well. The latter is a practice among the hunters to deceive prey such that they are unaware of  the predator's presence.    

In our recent tiger safari we stationed ourselves near a bridge over a rugged nullah which was favored for its ample water during the blistering summer. For some time there was no big cat in sight nor any alarm cries. My heart thumps with disappointment when the jungle is silent. 

We were thinking of our next move whence the jarring call of deer stilled us into silence.

"Alarm cry." I blurted, out well it was obvious the sound was loud and clear. The call was from deep inside, a bit away from the stream. Then silence again. We scored the neighborhood for signs of the tiger but none. After a long wait the calls erupted again this time further back.

"Where to?" I asked the guide. That was enough for him. We drove to a grove beside a Banyan Tree. There we waited till we heard the mother calling her cubs. A strange call more like the langur. We drove ahead for a surprise that lay ahead. And what a surprise. "Tiger!"         

At a distance from us the tigress, three cubs were resting on the jungle road. With his long lens Clive began to work till the big cats eventuality vanished into the woods. They then emerged well ahead in the grassland challenging our eyesight by their camouflage. The the big cats continued, perhaps on the hunt as we left for the exit.        

After a couple of days we visited the area again. Thinking that the family has moved to another area we were not going to wait for long. But the ways of the jungle are strange they had come back as the pug marks indicated some distance ahead. As we drove further we came across the mother's spoor. "They are still near somewhere here." I whispered to the guide.  

"Lets check the Banyan tree and the surroundings." The guide instructed. We did but there was only stillness that greeted us. "Back!" I said.

The roars were anxiety filled as we saw the tigress scampering madly, constantly calling loudly. "She is looking for the cubs/cub," I spoke. I could observe the desperation on the mother's face as she came onto the road and then began moving towards the Eco-tone.     

I was moved beyond words, the missing cubs/cub create loads of anxiety for the mother. She then headed towards the bridge on the nullah roaring continuously.  

Out of nowhere emerged the cub. He ran frantically towards the mother. There were howls of greeting and the writ of relief ran large on their countenance. Together they moved towards the favored spot and vanished.

"The other cubs are already at the spot near the stream." I said."Well lets wait."

A number of jeeps had arrived to witness the solemn moment. And it did happen. The tigress and cubs emerged and proceeded towards a large puddle and began to quench their thirst.

For my guests photographers this was an absolute bonanza. They were witnessing and capturing the moment with gusto.                  

Work done we moved on memory of the spectacle etched etched forever.

The images are awaited.