Vijaya remains ever elusive. Up until last year she was perhaps one of the most visible and photographed tigresses in India. This season she moves mostly at night (which I suppose is how it should be!) and there are nature guides and drivers in the park who have simply not seen her this season. The loss of a cubs from the first litter seems to have made her extra cautious.
As we started our trip into the Bandhavgarh’s forests on the morning of 21st February, pug marks around Siddhbaba conveyed that she has once again been active the previous night. We followed the pug marks towards the Chakradhara meadows and further to the hermit caves of Badi Gufa where she had cut away from the trail. At last, at Ganesh Pahadi, we saw her quietly moving across the hill. Moving further towards the Ghorademon Khidki junction, we spotted her on the track and she obliged us for close to 15 minutes while she went about her daily routine. Her thick winter fur meant that I was unable to confirm if her mammary glands were swollen. She was very purposeful and if the guides are to be believed then the next litter is already here – but remain tucked away.
Life for Vijaya will not be easy with Nalini still trying to lay claim to her Chorbehra area, Wakeeta’s sons range up to Sita Mandap and spilling over to her territory and Ananti seemingly coming as far as Ketkiha.
Here is hoping the next few months bring her more luck than the previous few.
Credits: Tiger Nation