Season Round Up: Ranthambore
Season Round-up: Ranthambore
Like each year it is time to rewind and relook at the sightings and tiger dynamics at Ranthambore during the past season. For ease of remembrance sharing zone-wise updates from the entire season. Lesser rains in monsoon last season had set the tone for the season & sightings were on expected lines.
Zone 1– T39 started the sighting charts with her sighting on day one of the season-opening along with other tourism zone tigers.
She had successfully protected her male cubs from T57 after her partner & father of cubs, T24 was shifted to Sajjangarh by park authorities during monsoon. However, it was only a while before this young determined lad started staking her claim on zone 1, she did try her best to block his advances but eventually gave up. To everyone's surprise, the family was sighted together in zone 2 with T57 on the 15th of October morning, perhaps the first such documentation so far. Both the male cubs locally known as Kallu & Dholiya were pushed towards the periphery of the park. Noor was once again ready to raise her third litter & eventually gave birth to 2 cubs as per photos released by the forest department. However, by the end of the season, there was no news of the fate of her cubs & she was pregnant again. She is expected to deliver her fourth litter sometime during the monsoon.
Zone 2– Zone 2 had a dull start to the season with Noor and her family preferring to stay in Zone 1. T60 the resident female of Guda was still shy initially & preferred to stay away from the limelight most of the time. It was only resident male T57 who kept sighting charts ticking for zone 2. In March came the news of the sighting of cubs of T60 in the Guda area fathered by T57. The lack of water in the area forced the family to frequent water holes in close proximity. Initially, it was thought that she only had two cubs however yours truly reported the presence of a third cub on 18th March morning. They continued to oblige visitors throughout the summer months & had slowly become the show stoppers for Ranthambore. While Noor preferred to stay away from this zone for the most part of the year, she was sighted frequently in May & June, perhaps protecting the area she shares with her neighbour T60.
Zone 3-Members of the first family preferred to spend most of their time away from each other with all three cubs virtually distributing the lake area amongst themselves. Arrowhead the dominant of two sisters took over the prime Rajbagh area while docile Lightning settled for Malik Lake close by. Pacman the lone male cub in the litter continued to wander in both the territories gaining the size and confidence which would come in handy for survival in future. While all of them avoided any kind of confrontation with each other, settling the dominance issues amicably. Mother & current queen of Ranthambore T19 preferred to maintain a low profile in 2016. She is all set to raise her third litter with long-time partner Star Male. She was reported mating with Star thrice since March 2016, the latest being the one in 2016 a few days before the park closure. Star male aka T28 the dominant male of lakes continued to control lakes and other parts of his huge territory which virtually runs from one end of the park to the other however signs of ageing have started to show up. It would be interesting to see how long can he continue to hold against younger males.
Zone 4 – The duo of T74 & T75 continue to aggressively defend the territory they had once acquired from resident male T6. However, their cousin & other young male T64 started making inroads into their territory around early December 2015. T74 was sighted mating with Laila aka T41, the resident female of the area which raised hope of the birth of new cubs in the area as her lone female cub had separated from her in the summer of 2015. By summer there was a significant drop in sightings of both T74 & T75, whereas T64 had established himself firmly in Bakola Valley & was even sighted mating with T41. This alliance has probably resulted in her getting pregnant finally. Lighting – female cub of T19 on the other hand continued to oblige visitors around Malik lake area for almost the entire season.
Zone 5– As expected T 74 & his brother T75 continued to control the Bakola Valley area while their cousin T64 continued to further expand his territory. He was sighted around the Bagda area of the park in December 2015. By early summer he had taken control of the Bakola area, a prime tiger habitat of the zone & also reportedly mating with T41 the resident female of this area. The other young resident in this zone T73 has probably given birth to cubs as young cubs were sighted in her territory towards the end of the season. The other dominant male of zone 5 Dollar aka T25 was not sighted in the tourism area this season. He perhaps has also been forced to move away to a newer area making space for Gen next.
Other zones– T 8 and her long-time partner continued to oblige visitors in zone 6 though T34 had a tough time defending his territory from challenger T58 who has snatched a large part of his territory. In fact, T34 sustained multiple injuries in a fight with T58 in March 2016. By the end of the season, there was news of T8 having given birth to a fresh litter of cubs however the same has not been confirmed yet. Her daughter T61 and her both cubs continued to oblige visitors in Zone 8 whereas T42 was sighted occasionally in Zone 10.
Any sighting log of Ranthambore would not be complete without news of Queen Machli. She continues to spend most of her time in the non-tourism area of the park & was sighted by tourists on multiple occasions.
Outlook for the coming season – Next season looks promising as a lot of cubs are expected in tourism areas across zones. While T60 and T73 already have cubs, T8 is expected to have delivered whereas T19, T39 and T41 are expected to deliver in the coming season. It would be interesting to watch whether cubs of T19 would continue to live in the same areas or would be forced to move out in search of their own territory.