Satra doesn’t shy away from a fight. As an adventurous cub, she explored the outer limits of her territory, and learning from her strong mother Machali, she soon took over a territory of her own and challenged any who got in her way. But she has had to fight to stay in power – even her own mother has been driven out of her lands by her plucky daughter.
But until recently, though she has succeeded in exerting her dominance over all the other females in the park, Satra has not yet reached one of her biggest milestones as a tigress – to raise cubs. She enjoys the company of four different mates but only in May 2012 did she have 3 cubs at nearly six years of age. It is thought that fellow star male Dollar, an adoptive father in his own right, is the father of Satra’s litter.
However after a fight with a rival male this winter, to protect her cubs, she moved from her prime habitat and has not been seen for a week from late April 2013.
Is she still alive? Why has she left her cubs?
Satra was the dominant one in the litter from the very start. By December in 2007, she’d started exploring her territory for days-on-end, while her other two sisters stayed with the mother. By early 2008, Satra had established a small territory around the base of the Ranthambhore Fort, while her two sisters were still living with their mother. Occasionally Satra would go back to the family, despite already being a capable hunter on her own. Finally, by the summer of 2008, Satra had become totally independent, with her two sisters taking another few months to separate from their mother.
In the summer of 2008, there were serious efforts to relocate tigers from Ranthambhore to Sariska (a reserve close by that had lost all its tigers to poaching), and a number of tigers were identified for this relocation – Sharmelee and Satra among them. As part of the process, the selected tigers were fitted with a radio tracking collar. Sharmelee was relocated to Sariska in early July, leaving the Lakkarda area open for Sundari or one of her sisters to take over. But this was not to be. Satra was never moved to Sariska, and her radio collar was finally taken off in November 2011.
During the winter of 2008, Satra was confident enough to expand her territory. To everyone’s surprise she started fighting with her mother Machali for territory. This war of succession ended in Satra’s favour, after Machali left the area of the lakes to establish her base in Lakkarda, where she still lives today.
Soon, Satra took over most of Machali’s territory except for two small parts – Lakkarda, which was left for her mother, and parts of Mandoop, which her sister Unnis took over. Her third sister, Athara, had just established her territory in the Phoota Kot area, when she too was relocated to Sariska.
Since then, Satra has been ruling the area of the lakes and an impressively large adjoining territory. For the last three years, she has been the most frequently seen tiger in Ranthambhore. Like her mother, Satra is certainly not shy of vehicles and often gets too close for some people’s comfort.
We’ve often seen Satra mate with one of four different males, but she showed no signs of bearing a litter. She always shared her territory with three different males (T12, T25 and Sitara earlier, and now Sultanpur, following T12’s move to Sariska) and it may be a case of tiger politics that she has deliberately not had cubs.
During early summer 2011, Satra started expanding into the Kachida valley after the dominant female there (T5) died. Satra now has one of the largest territories among the females in Ranthambhore National Park – a territory rivalled in size only by that of her sister Unnis.
After much speculation and a number of years playing one male off against another, Satra finally had three cubs in early May 2012, and it is believed Dollar (T25) is the father.
At the end of the season, in late June 2012, she exhibited her cubs to the world, just before the park closure and monsoon broke. For the next six months Satra gamefully showed off her charges as they grew up under the glare of publicity.
However in late December she fought with Sitara (T28) who was not happy about her progeny’s ancestry and she had to protect them from him. Her fighting injury was severe and needed veterinary intervention. Soon to protect her cubs she moved them away from her territory to the western borders near Kachida under Dollar’s protection. From there she started to wander into the nearby farmlands causing must consternation for the department.
As of late April, she has been missing for a number of days and her cubs have been calling for her often.
Follow Satra and her three cubs. Has she survived and now will her cubs survive if she doesn’t?
Credits: Tiger Nation