Family, Bondage and Acceptance- A new Horizon of Tigers

It turns out to be more special when a big boy walks along with his mother and the younger brothers and sisters (not essentially ‘siblings’) – apparently, an unlikely picture to be seen in the tiger society. Such is the scenario in Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, where Karnavat, the three-year old lad is still hanging around with his mother Kamli (T-11) and her second litter of young cubs. It seems that T-5, the dominant male and who is Karnavat’s father as well, has accepted sticking him around with the family, perhaps with the hope of an extra muscle to spare, for the time being at least. Kamli’s journey here at Sanjay Dubari, started in 2015 when she herself was an adolescent.   Well, we are often fond of  stereotyping tigers, as well as, other wild animals under the umbrella term ‘animal behaviour’. In reality, if we keenly observe, there lies no specific term called ‘animal behaviour’ since each and every animal is different by its own nature and character. Same is the case to be expected from tigers. What we are observing now, is a least dismantled side of their private life. Obviously, there is deliberate choice behind using this particular phrase. Why is it not ‘private’ when each of them is resonsible for his or her individuality? 
  As far as I can remember from the various source of references, a dominant male tiger giving space to a grown up male cubs along with the newly arrived litter of his mate is first recorded in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh in 1994, when Langru (an affectionate Hindi word, which means ‘the lame one’), a cub from Sita’s third litter (should be considered as the first litter after her mating with Charger) was allowed to stay along with Sita and her two young female cubs. I, personally, first came across the scene in one of the famous documentaries called _The Tigers Next Door_, directed by Ashis Chandola and, produced by Mike Birkherd. Langru was a little bit weaker and shy than his bold and gallant big brother Barha Baccha. Biologists are of the opinion that it was Charger’s immensely soft side to allow his son along with them, simulteniously with a new litter. Till the late 90s, it was definitely a least know fact. In his famous Bengali book _Baagh o Taar Gyatigoshthi_ (meanig the tiger and its feline legacies) the legendary scientist and zoologist Late Dr. Ratan Lal Brahmachari used a finest analogy to substantiate this view. His was the opinion to relate this side of tigers’ family life with that of our domestic cats. They are the miniature-replica of the tigers’ social decorum. And, true it is! We are only discovering it gradually with our increasing acquaintance with these supreme big cats.
  However, the acceptance of the grown up son by T-5, resembles another heart touching incident of an adolescent female cub called Sundari in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh. Sundari was ‘adopted’ by her elder half sister called Chuhari (often mispelt as ‘Chori’) in the year 1998 after her mother Lakshmi was gone missing after a terrible territorial fight with a new male. Lakshmi’s three cubs were spending their time in an frightening ambiance of uncertainty, maximizing their hunting skill. But, flexin muscles in such a supreme agenda is not a plain task at all at the tender age of one and half years. Chuhari’s acceptance of Sundari is something what Stephen Mills designated as a territorial collaboration between the blood relatives. Related females are known to be more compromising in certain cases. Familial bondage plays a great role here. Hope, much of the new turns and discoveries will gradually represent the tigers in a new horizon of understanding.

-by Pratik Mahapatra