Knocking on Doorstep
Ranthambhore Gen-next is ready. Ready to leave the identity of their erstwhile families & create one of their own. Thankfully forest department has also given them their own ‘T-XX’ identities & they would soon not be known as male/female cubs of T-XX. They seem to be all over the place, perhaps some have already separated from their mother, some are in the process of getting separated & some are still a few months away. But come summer this younger lot would be on their own. The next six months would be difficult/challenging for most of these especially male tigers. With a higher male ratio & existing male still being in their prime, they would find it difficult to establish themselves. It would be interesting to see which path they would adopt-moving out of the park in search of new areas like the male cub of T8 who ventured outside the park & has been living there OR would they dare the challenge other dominant males inside to claim their land & lady.
I was in Ranthambhore recently for 3 days & out of the four tigers I saw, three belong to Gen-next. Have been following most of these tigers since their younger days & it is heartening to see them shaping up but at the same time, you always fear that this sighting probably could be the last. Male Cubs of T19 aged 33 months approx. are still hanging together, they are frequently sighted in areas between Padam Talab & Malik Talab which is pretty much part of their parent's territory. While both the parents have been tolerating their presence not sure for how long. They are stuck between 4 males (T25, T24, T6 &their father T28) all in their prime still and one sub-adult tiger Sultan, so the competition for both territory & female to mate is intense. All these resident males are in their prime & control very large territories but only have one female to mate so any kind of intrusion would not be easily accepted.
Sultan the brat, faces a similar situation to these two brothers. Born almost a year later he
still has some time in his hand. Recently his parents were sighted mating in his presence, to his relief it was a false mating as per experts. Soon his mother would leave him for longer durations & thus he would have to get into the habit of surviving on his own. Most of his territory is along the park boundary and therefore his possibility of moving out is higher in case he is pushed around by other males. Personally speaking, would love to see this dare-devil rule the lake areas but only time would tell.
On the other hand, the female cub of T8 is already separated from her mother & as generally believed she has carved out a small territory for her own within her mother's territory. The mother has already moved on & is currently busy raising a single cub & given the vast territory size they might not have immediate conflict but come summers lesser water in that area would result in frequent interactions. Would be interesting to watch if the mother still tolerates her presence, then.
I am sure the situation is similar with cubs of T26, and T11 who have delivered another litter as well as cubs of T9, and T31 who are of almost similar age to these cubs. One male cub of T26 has already moved out of Ranthambhore & had settled in the forests of Datiya MP as per the last info received. Since not much first-hand info is available about these cubs, I would restrict myself here.
Hoping all these cubs can find a safe place for themselves & continue to contribute to the growth of their tribe. While Ranthambhore does have a carrying capacity perhaps a healthier habitat at Kaila Devi or safe corridors to nearby forests holds the key to their survival. As always, I am hopeful.