< < Go Back
image description

Satarah The Queen in waiting

T17 or ‘satrah’ is the current queen of Ranthambhore…. A prominent tigress of the park, she surely deserves the title of ‘tiger queen’… title she stole from her mother Machli, the legendary tigress. Life came to a full circle at Ranthambhore when Machli met the same fate as her mother…. overthrown by Machli

Fathered by T2 one of the most prominent tigers of his times, T17 surely is a reflection of strong pedigree. She today commands one of the biggest territories in Ranthambore… territory even bigger than some of the male tigers. Usually, a female tiger’s territory extends up to 5-10 km & normally there are 2-3 such territories in a male tiger’s territory. Her territory is currently spread over more than four tourist zones which include all three lakes Padam Talab, Rajbagh & Malik Talab & are regularly sighted in areas like Tamba Khan, Bhutkhurra, Kachida &Lakkad da to name a few.

She is one of the most sighted & tigers of RNP & can be easily identified by the radio collar belt on her neck, the only tiger in the tourism zone currently sporting a collar. She surely is camera friendly. Would not mind posing for shutterbugs, uses tourist vehicles effectively as camouflage, and hunts in the presence of tourists …reminds me of Machli.

You do not always need a ticket /safari ride to meet T17. Like a true queen she would regularly venture out of the park boundary around Jogi Mahal, and take a long walk on Fort Road obliging visitors going to the fort and temple… even causing scare as visitors are allowed to walk on foot till the fort from park entry gate… she has never hurt any human being.

I have seen T17 four times so far…including my ‘jinx’ breaking first sighting of Machli, T17 & her two siblings. Next time she was on the road around Bawdi & majaar on fort road. While it is always an amazing experience to watch this beauty, nothing can match my sighting of her on January 29, 2011.
On impulse, I started from Delhi around 6 PM & reached Ranthambhore around 3 A.M. Tired of driving the whole night, decided to skip the morning safari and went to Ganesh temple. This is a famous Ganesh temple located inside the fort & one needs to drive via fort road which is very much part of the wild habitat.  Private vehicles are allowed till Jogi Mahal gate also the entry point of zone II & III provided you have a PUC certificate.
We drove via Hamir Kund & Atal Sagar…. two famous water bodies along the fort road only to witness some chaos at Jogi Mahal. All the tourist vehicles designated for the above zones were standing at the gate & all the guests were down. Before I could guess something Shivraj Singh, forest guard & old acquaintance pointed towards a tall tree some 300 meters from the park boundary… I got out of the car immediately & could see a leopard sitting on the tree top. A leopard so close to the chaos point that too in the morning???? The chaos was explainable now…. tourists surely were excited to see a leopard that too early morning in core tiger territory…Unable to understand this, I looked at Shivraj for a clue who with a grin on his face pointed his finger again in the same direction & said… “sir thodi door has been niche karke bhi dekho”. By the time I could focus towards the bottom of the tree, “tiger” somebody shouted from the crowd… while I was still fidgeting with settings, Shivraj asked me to move a little closer to the wall…. T17 or Satrah was sitting right below the same tree staring at the leopard. The stare was deadly enough for humans to get terrified and leave the poor leopard aside. wow….. I pinched myself, it was happening in front of me but was difficult to digest. It seems she had sighted this panic-stricken leopard, who having lost her companion a male leopard the previous day was running for life… Two days back a friend of mine had seen the love birds (leopard pair) mating in the open around Singhdwar Chowki, the entry point for zone IV & V. Lost in love, they surely forgot that they were tress passing three prominent tiger territories…  that too of T17, T24 & T28. The price for such a mistake in the jungle is surely heavy.

Talking of mistakes, even I was paying the price, of not carrying a camera…. it was just another trip to the temple I thought & decided to go without a camera… something which I would surely curse forever.

Coming back to our story…T17 unfazed by utter chaos around her sat under this big dry tree waiting for her probable morning breakfast. As greedy as we humans are some gypsy drivers decided to go close to the place where all this drama was happening which was surely not what the queen wanted, she got up from her place and started walking on the jungle track forcing all vehicles to move back… as if teaching them a lesson or two on jungle etiquette. She was very close to the park boundary & since the possibility of her coming on the main road was very high… we were asked to come inside the chowki while Shivraj decided to close the entry gate.

I was inside the chowki looking through the glass window & T17 sat right below the window, she was looking straight towards me through the glass window. I was numb for a moment or two for sure, cannot forget that mesmerising look forever. This was probably the closest tiger encounter so far……
The arrival of the jungle queen

Well, the jungle surely is full of surprises & you need to be lucky to be at the right place & with the right equipment, my learning from today.

Today it seems T17 surely had her sympathies towards me for having missed the morning opportunity as I discovered later. Eager to catch her glimpse once again we boarded our gypsy & headed towards fort road. As we reached Singhdwar, Kailash informed us of her presence nearby, we decided to stop there only to hear alarm calls so did some other tourist vehicles. While we were waiting… I was checking my camera settings again & again…just to ensure all was well.

Langur alarm call from a close distance announced her arrival… She was walking slowly as if enjoying all the attention…she surely was. She crossed the forest chowki from behind & started walking on the forest track…she walked almost 2 km ahead of us, occasionally leaving her scent to mark her presence before entering a small nallah….
She surely is a queen or perhaps queen in waiting…. looking forward to a perfect suitor to take the family legacy forward & contribute to the tiger population in Ranthambhore like her mother Machli.
I surely would remember this eventful day.. the day when Lord Ganesha bestowed his blessings on this tiger fanatic….


< < Go Back
Call Whatsapp