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Ranthambore Round Up

Another great season at Ranthambore ended on June 30th & park is now closed for the next 3 months due to monsoon, zones 6-10 remain open for tourism though. As always here I am trying to summarize the season which lasted 270 days in almost 270 lines, quite a task for sure, the good news is there is no penalty for breaching it.

As expected, this undoubtedly was the season of the first family of Ranthambore- T19. Having missed them

T19 with her current litter of 3 cubs from Ranthambore

Happy times-first family of Ranthambore

sighting in last season due to the closure of Zone 3 & then the closure of the park people were looking forward to seeing this family around lakes & they did oblige for sure. All of the social media was full of their images as they continued to oblige all & sundry. It was a delight to watch these cubs grow as each month passed by under the watchful eyes of their mother. As months passed Mother surely had a task at hand- One it is not easy to cope with the ever-growing demand for food, secondly, of the three cubs both girls are giving her a tough time as friendly bouts turned into fights of dominance. On numerous occasions, she had to intervene to ensure safety and she surely is not liking it, something she made pretty clear to offenders. The male cub on the other hand seems to be taking life easy, as per me he is quite an instigator as he teams up with one of the sisters & sits back once the duel starts. Cubs are now 14 months old & probably this winter would see them parting ways in search of their own respective spaces.  They have started hunting on their own & have made a few kills independently. While the female cub which is also known as ‘Arrowhead’ or ‘Forkmark’ looks like the most suitable candidate for being the next ‘Lady of Lakes’ & carry forward the legacy of this great clan, only time would validate this.

The Trio- T39 & cubs

The Trio- T39 & Cubs

Another famous family of tourism zone- T39 & cubs kept on playing hide & seek with visitors, post some superb sightings in October & November, their sightings were not so frequent for the rest of the season. They did spend most of their time in the non-tourism area, their little secret paradise. This family was in the limelight once again when the father of cubs T24, a prominent male of the tourism area was shifted to Sajjangarh post his reported involvement in the killing of a forest guard on 8th May 2015. Did see the family thrice post this incident & I am confident that there is no immediate risk to these cubs & the mother is capable to ensure their safety.

Bakola in zone V was surely witnessing some real action as 5-6 tigers were moving around in that area. Siblings T74 & T75 continued to patrol and protect their newly acquired territory which they had snatched from resident male T6. Almost the entire season both of them were sighted together around Bakola, Semli, Aadi Dant & Aadi dagar and occasionally Semli. T6 has reportedly shifted to the non-tourism area by pushing the dominant male of that area further. Survival of the fittest, old guard making way for these young guns. T25 aka Dollar- the charmer continued to follow T41 aka Laila & was sighted mating with her twice, first in April 2015 & then in June 2015. Unlike the earlier theory of forced mating, it looked like she has finally given in to the charms & might of this handsome challenger. It would be good to see if this mating results in the birth of new cubs in the park.

The third family of the park- T8 & her cubs were also the star attraction of this season. Sighted with two cubs towards the end of last season, she did spend most of her time in zone 6 this season as she had vacated part of her territory for her daughter T61 who is now settled in Balas zone of the park with her partner & young sub-adult male T58. On 8th March 2015, T8 lost her 9-month-old male cub which was killed by another male tiger suspected to be T58. As per eye witness, the mother did fight bravely with the intruder but perhaps it was too late to change the fate of the young male. Resident male T34 was also frequently sighted during the season.

T16 aka machli

T16- Grand old lady of Indian wildlife- Image courtesy Gary Wales

The grand old lady of Ranthambore Machli aka T16 was not sighted much this summer except for a special appearance on 11th May 2015 when she obliged visitors of zone 4 & 5 during both safaris. This 17-year-old grandmother of park has now lost all 4 canines & one claw and is unable to see from her left eye due to cataract but she looked graceful as always. She continues to spend her time in her retirement home behind the tourism area. Here’s wishing her a healthy life as long as she wishes to survive.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, generation next of Ranthambore is all set to take charge of old

T64 - Ranthambore

Gen Next of RTR- T64

guards and have already done so in some areas of the park. T64 & T64 sub-adult males from T19’s first litter who were initially reported as missing seemed to have settled well in vacant areas of the park whereas her sister T63 has further expanded her territory till Guda and Pandu Deh areas of zone II which were earlier controlled by another old lady of park T22.  It would be nice to have a resident female with breeding potential around the Guda area. T57 the young sub-adult from Indaala seems to have settled well around Guda & is a suitable prospective partner for T63. T73- sub-adult female cub continues to hold her territory around Kachida & Bagda. With T64 now advancing till Dhakda, it would be interesting to watch if these first cousins pair up anytime soon. T62 – the sub-adult male cub of T8 from the first litter seems to have returned from his voyage & was sighted in zone 9 as per the last reports. Some others like T66, T71 & perhaps T72 had to move out of the park towards Karouli & Kaila Devi in search of their land and lady.

Overall, the park has surplus tigers &, logically, weaker ones- sub-adults/ residents would have to make way for stronger competitors. Dispersed tigers would either populate new areas of the reserve as done by some in past or would return to their home turf once they are strong enough to challenge their competitor.

There was action throughout the park this season. In zone 10 it was T13 and her cubs which obliged visitors with their sightings along with frequent sightings of T42 who was also seen mating with T13 in April 2015. On zone 9 it was T59 and T42 who kept the sighting charts ticking.

Here’s wishing all the striped beauties, other denizens of forests & their protectors a safe monsoon.


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