Ranthambhore - May 2011
I departed for India on 6 May returning once again to Ranthambhore National Park where I remained for almost three weeks. It was a wonderful experience to return to the tiger reserve that means so much to me and which I have visited many times over the past few years. I enjoyed many memorable tiger sightings totalling twelve different tigers seen within the tourist area of the park during this visit. Of particular interest to me was seeing the well known and now aged tigress T.16 (perhaps better known as 'Machali'). Prior to seeing her I had received varying reports as to her condition; she is now in her twilight years being fourteen years old. I am advised that the Forest Department are helping on occasions to supplement her feed as although she is still able to make a kill this is becoming less frequent. However when I finally saw her again she looked well as she steadliy walked close to my jeep, marking and patrolling her home range. I also witnessed a male tiger, T.25, mating with with T.17, one of 'Machali's' daughters from her last litter. T.17 is collared and is one of three siblings, two of which have their home ranges at Ranthambhore; the third was relocated and now inhabits Sariska Tiger Reserve. I understand that T.17's collar will be removed once the authorities believe that it is safe to do so as it would of course be dangerous to tranquilise the tigress if she is pregnant. One of the most interesting facts that I discovered at Ranthambhore was that the two seven month old cubs of the late tigress known as T.5, are now spending much of their time with their father T.25. If the cubs survive to adulthood with the male tiger taking over the role of their late mother, then this will be ground breaking news in tiger behaviour. The photograph accompanying this report is of T.39 a tigress who had made a kill of a Sambar deer the evening before I took this picture. After she had made the kill and had feasted on her prize she left the carcass safely hidden in a cave to feed on the following day. I was lucky to be close by as she appeared from the cave to feed. A selection of the photographs from my visit can be seen by following this 'LINK' to the Gallery section of my website.