Summer arrives but tragedy and change continues – By Kay Tiwari

Mahua Flowers - the flowers used for making central India's finest alcoholic nectar - Mahua (c) 2014
Mahua Flowers – the flowers used for making central India’s finest alcoholic nectar – Mahua (c) 2014

It’s now summer in Bandhavgarh. The Mahua is falling and the jungle in flower as the bamboo looses its green shroud and drying leaves litter the forest floor. Though the days remain hot and the night only just a little cooler it is unusually cloudy right now as the unseasonal threat of rain continues to hit central India.

It’s been a tough year so far with Tala unrecognizably quiet regarding its big cats and especially the tigers. Though it still offers all the history of this magical place and the beauty of it’s scenery few are interested in the animal treasures hidden deep away and pure chance to see. The prey base is certainly more settled than last season with little in the way of alarm calls ringing in the hills and the gaur too have calved again but for the visitor the tiger has become an elusive ghost.

Trya takes a long drink (c) Kay Tiwari
Trya takes a long drink (c) Kay Tiwari

It is said both Tulsi the Milchaini female and Jaya the Rajbehra female are about to litter, perhaps they already have. Sightings of these two tigresses have been few this season as they move alone their families either grown and moved out or sadly vanished. Jaya has been the lucky one with all her four surviving to separate and challenge for territory. Trya is seen frequently these days on the edge of her mother’s territory seemingly settling in between the Sukki Pattia tigress and her mother with Ondrila nestled close by too. She’s been seen in the company of several different males including O1 and her brother Johnno but these boys are wandering alone now avoiding conflict with older stronger males that search her out!

For Johnno, Murphy and Crumbie it’s a tough time as little is seen of these three now and it will be interesting where they might pop up next? We are all wondering which tigress has or will take Chakradhara, could it be one of these two sisters or perhaps Nalini has already claimed it? Some have seen a secretive tiger in Chakradhara claimed to be a tigress but Somanshu is also still around and being as elusive as any cat might be. He’s seen in Magdhi too but thought to make his way back to Chakradhara for a bit of peace and safety. Who ever this tiger is it will be a mystery revealed one day, the phantom of Chakradhara will one day be recognized!

As to the new male in Tala, Bamera’s nemesis, he’s hardly ever around let alone seen. It seems he’s done his business and gone home to Kalwah Range or has he? With Tulsi and Jaya pregnant and Wakeeta with cub in Banbehi there seems little reason to remain in Tala these days. Better to follow the young females in Magdhi! Certainly males are seen in Magdhi but neither this new boy known to some as Mangu or Chinkoo here or Jobhi  have been spotted in weeks if not months. At present it’s the two Mahaman brothers now three years old that have taken up the cause and are disturbing life in zone two. Both these boys are seen right up to Sukki Pattia and O2 has even been spotted disturbing the tigress Yoshila though she made short work of throwing him out. O2 is quite a character and has even thought to have tried his luck at mating with Y6 daughter of Yoshila, while O1 spends more time tracking Trya or following his mother Ondrila about around Mahaman.

Ondrila seen recently alone - Sighted evening after 5pm at Sukki Dam in Magdhi zone. Ondrila I9. (c) 2014
Ondrila seen recently alone – Sighted evening after 5pm at Sukki Dam in Magdhi zone. Ondrila I9. (c) 2014

As to Ondrila she’s been spending time with Bamera male, Shashi hidden away in the closed area. She seems content with his company though he still steals her kills and scraps take place. For poor Shashi times are tough but he’s still hanging on in there as seen on a video recently posted on TN facebook! Perhaps Ondrila is carrying his last ditched attempt at fathering cubs though the Khitauli male Tarun or Bheem is also seen crossing to Tala these days and may perhaps father her next litter? For sure Jobhi is not in the area recently and FD workers say the young male O1 was the last to be seen sharing a meal with Shashi, not literally but in the same area and in the knowledge of each other. Shashi is hardly old at approaching eleven so he’s in for more troubles no doubt if he can’t get rid of that terrible limp.

Shashi is not the only aging tiger being challenged for space right now either. Recently Indrani was spotted in Khitauli without cubs sadly (what has happened to them is a mystery?). She had made a cow kill, fully compensated thank goodness, but she is carrying a swollen fore paw which looks quite painful. I have a feeling this is a recurring old injury just as Shashi carries but she seems in control and at 13 years old it will be doubtful she will mother again so can feel content she just has herself to look after. Poor girl she has had a tough time since her partner Shaki/Bhoka’s departure I hope she can live out her old age safely somewhere. As a secretive tigress seeing her is a real treat one of the few old faces left, Tulsi being the next oldest tigress at 11 years of age. It’s sad to see the old faces disappear now this park changes its characters so often due to the sheer pressure for space!

While these old characters struggle it’s been heart warming to see both Yoshila in Magdhi and Haimi in Khitauli doing so well. For Haimi all her three cubs have survived the monsoon of last year and at around 16 months or more are doing really well. This tigress is a wonderful mother considering she has a territory greatly disturbed by villagers, a dream to spot though her cubs are really very shy even at this older age. This must be a product of living around human habitation no doubt. Yoshila has a new litter seen quite often now and growing fast. She has become Indian’s favourite tigress in Bandhavgarh for now as she in fact has the only litter of small cubs around in at present.

The reason for this is the sad news that Wakeeta in Banbehi lost one of her cubs in a snare set for meat poaching and a second has seemingly vanished! So Wakeeta has suffered losses yet again and is moving with just one small cub and though they are sometimes seen she is certainly keeping her diminished family close by her side and well hidden much of the time. If Tala and Bandhavgarh do have the patter of tiny feet echoing in the hills we all may have to wait till next season to glimpse new faces born to Tulsi and Jaya. Let’s hope Bandhavgarh is more settled now and that the continuing deaths are ended. Life goes on but in these beautiful hills it’s been too quiet for comfort and regeneration is greatly needed. It will come we just need to wait and keep our fingers crossed the wars of this big cat world are over, for a few years at least?

Credits: Tiger Nation 

Death of a youngster – Another Challenger? by Kay Tiwari

T8 on right with his mother Tulsi (c) 2014
T8 on right with his mother Tulsi (c) 2014

After the untimely death of Vijaya there are many who love Bandhavgarh, now spending hours mulling over concerns as to which tigress might take her space and the future of her one remaining cub. With little news forthcoming from the Forest Department these days it is very difficult to say anything concrete. It’s a game of wait and see as usual.

Tulsi with her three cubs in June 2013. One now missing and one dead. (c) Kay Tiwari
Tulsi with her three cubs in June 2013. One now missing and one dead. (c) Kay Tiwari

Also many are wondering which male tiger actually died back in July after a nasty fight. It was reported as a male cub of the Milchaini tigress, called Tulsi, but of the remaining two which is actually dead?  Is it T7 or T8?  T6 had already vanished earlier in the season, fate unknown, presumed killed in the continued male struggle that has hit Bandhavgarh.

Two brothers of the original three. Tulsi's sub adults in June 2014 (c) Kay Tiwari
Two brothers of the original three. Tulsi’s sub adults in June 2014 (c) Kay Tiwari

Neither male had been seen regularly during the season due to Tulsi’s continued cleverness in keeping her tribe well concealed. However when sightings were made a little of their individual characters were becoming apparent. T7, being less shy than his brother T8, was more curious and interested in the tourism attention of which T8 basically tried to ignore – as his mother so often does. For T7 the attention seemed fascinating. Both boys clung to their mother often walking close by her side rubbing up against her enjoying the security she offered. Never before with a litter had Tulsi kept her growing cubs so close. Even at 18 months of age she was reluctant in leaving them alone for long, feeling it necessary to keep the two remaining boys within her sights and high in the hills away from marauding young males travelling long distances from kill sights and moving her family regularly to secret places away from danger.

 Of course as the cubs grew older demands on their mother would have grown. Food would have been for ever on her agenda and therefore the constant fear of an unknown and unwelcome intruder at the table. Not only was Tulsi dealing with her own family struggles supplying food for the father of the cubs, presumed to be Shashi, she was also dealing with several youngsters. Pushpraj and his brother Kanvar who had caused her stress the previous season were continually following her in the hope of food. Somanshu, Vijaya’s son from Chakradhara on occasions made an entrance and the very fiery visitor from Magdhi, an complete unknown has recently turned up to add to the trauma.

T7's right flank. May 2014 (c) Kay Tiwari
T7’s right flank. May 2014 (c) Kay Tiwari

In fact it was this unpredictable male that by the end of the summer was regularly seen in Milchaini and many believe that it is this male that is now causing the chaos while Pushpraj has vanished from sight having been accused of decimating his mother Wakeeta’s second litter, his own step brothers and sister. At the same time Somanshu has holed up in the slightly more peaceful area of Chakradhara/Barua Nallah and Banbehi/Ghorademon. It is therefore being presumed the aggressive Magdhi male killed the cub in July or at least injured it during a fierce fight. Another story however reports that actually the elephant Astam killed the injured cub after it attacked from behind by applying pressure to its trachea when forcing it down by his trunk? The truth is we at TN will probably never know the true facts or the reality of which tigers were involved.

The jungles keep their secrets from prying eyes.

 Anyone have any other news?

Credits: Tiger Nation 

 

Vijaya – Death of the one-eyed princess. The post mortem by Kay Tiwari

Vijaya, only two montsh ago with her three youngsters (c) Shivang Mehta
Vijaya, only two montsh ago with her three youngsters (c) Shivang Mehta

Since the monsoon began in Bandhavgarh there has been nothing but bad news. In Milchaini a young male was found dead after a fight with a stronger tiger – but reported to have been killed by an elephant sent out to report on its condition. Then reports of maneaters in Khitauli and the heated debatesabout what do about this thorny problem. And now the astonishing news that Vijaya (better known as Kankatti) is dead.

Her body was discovered on the morning of the 6th August lying near the MPT compound. She was partially decomposed and torn open on the left rear flank. It appeared the tigress had died two or three days previously and her body had lain undiscovered. The day before it had rained heavily all day and much flooding had occurred with the Chukradhara stream higher than we have ever seen it. This would certainly not have helped in identifying the course of death and had possibly washed the body into its present position. However, it has been reported that there were bite marks on the body and wounds. One side the right flank was identifiable and confirmed the body was indeed that of the tigress Vijaya. It is thought now that she had died from loss of blood after a tremendous fight.

As we had all known her, she was barve and ferocious fighter and would have fought to the end, but with which opponent we will probably never know.

What about her 4 month old cubs?

 

Naturally, since her discovery and resultant Hindu cremation,  the search has been on to find the cubs or at least determine their present condition. Sadly this very afternoon two were discovered dead near the remains of a chital kill. The third was seen nearby and I believe has been captured or surrounded by fencing. What will happen to this single cub is unsure as a compound in Jhorjhora may be a very poor and lonely existence for such a youngster, now only 4 months old. The dice are stacked again its survival.

Who is the culprit?

 

Somanshu, Vijaya's son in Chakradhara. Surely he is not to blame! (c) 2014
Somanshu, Vijaya’s son in Chakradhara. Surely he is not to blame! (c) 2014

It is hard to say?  There are several young males in the area including her son, Somanshu and Ondrilla’s now two year old cubs, but I would doubt these have the strength to overcome this fiesty tigress. Then there is the dominant male Jobhi but he has been seen in her company so why would he choose to kill one of his females. He would certainly have the strength and power but his range covers Vijaya ‘s territory and she knows him now. This fight appears like a fight with an unknown marauder.

Could this be the work of the aggressive and unpredictable male from Magdhi that no one knows the ancestory of?  He is a dicey male that snarls at everything and is thought to be the tiger that fought in July in Milchaini. Could he have reached to Chorbehra and be challenging for space here. The Forest Dept say there is a male about but which one it is, is not at all clear. All thought it to be Jobhi but maybe another has turned up as Rahasy did last season. Indeed, has he returned to wreck havoc again?

Cold winter mornings in Vijaya's Chakradhara meadow (c) Kay Hassall Tiwari
Cold winter mornings in Vijaya’s Chakradhara meadow (c) Kay Hassall Tiwari

Once again Chakradhara, our magic meadow falls silent and is left bereft.

Will one of Vijaya’s neices relish its beauty and the harvest of its bounty and once more breathe life into the heart of this normally peaceful playground.

Credits: Tiger Nation

Vijaya reveals her new family to the world by Kay Tiwari

Vijaya and her second litter of three cubs near Jumunia in the Tala Zone. (c) Imtiaz Khan
Vijaya and her second litter of three cubs near Jumunia in the Tala Zone. (c) Imtiaz Khan

It’s several weeks now since news of Vijaya’s second litter of cubs broke when they were spotted at Gopalpur crossing the road during the searing heat of an April day, following their proud mother to the safety of a cool cave. Since then they have been seen on a few occasions and even with the presence of Jobhi. Finally they have arrived to reveal three small bungles of fun under the ever vigilant presence of their mother’s caring eye.

It is not really known when they were born exactly or who the father truly is but does Jobhi’s huge presence now in Chakradhara and Sidh Baba offer a reasonable hint of parentage? The cubs though still small, no longer have their baby blue eyes or show the cuddlesome fluffy cute bodies of new borns, but the viewing has indicted that at least one cub is male. For this family the learning curve has already begun. After the troubles of Vijaya’s first litter if all three are to survive to adulthood, they must study well.

It’s early morning in Jumunia with temperature a cool 26 degrees celcius as the sun rises slowly in the west. A half consumed chital kill lies in damp cover nearby. Vijaya killed in the night and the whole family has already feasted well. Tiny stomachs take less than a kilo of meat but Vijaya herself looks well fed, content and untroubled.  She grooms her cubs with her long rasped tongue and they lovingly gather around under her watchful gaze.

Rising she steps out of cover into the open and again sits and looks longingly at her cubs to follow and perhaps suckle a while. However, suddenly patrolling staff appear on foot and disturb her intentions, causing her to retreat and head off towards the track beckoning her cubs to follow. Within second amongst the rustle of undergrowth three little bodies emerge and trot off behind the tigress hurrying to keep pace, their little legs at time fully extended.

Growing fast, Vijaya's cubs must be over three months old already. Notice the eyes are amber in colour not baby blue! (c) Imtiaz Khan
Growing fast, Vijaya’s cubs must be over three months old already. Notice the eyes are amber in colour not baby blue! (c) Imtiaz Khan

Mum does not glance back to check her family is following, this is not the first time she has moved her brood in daylight or human presence and she knows her cubs have learnt the need to keep her in their sights.

Credits: Tiger Nation 

Khitauli Zone update, winter news by Kay Tiwari

A watering hole in Khitauli. (c) Anand Madabhushi
A watering hole in Khitauli. (c) Anand Madabhushi

The Khitauli zone update of Bandhavgarh

Summer has finally begun in Bandhavgarh after months of weekly rains during a long cool winter. Though the temperatures really never dropped that low cloudy skies and moist air have disrupted much of the normal animal behaviour expected as the water pools dry up across the forest tracts. Khitauli itself is normally pretty quiet during the early part of the season as the few tigers that roam the tourist area criss cross within open and closed boundaries. However, much was expected in Khitauli this season with the Damdama female seen mating with Mukunda last summer and he himself generally quite visible and confident as a settled male tiger.

As it turned out this was not to be when the park opened. With water located in every nook and cranny and villagers still grazing their cattle on the edge of the zone, prey is scattered far and wide and disturbance a daily routine for the predators. Some visitors have been lucky and sightings lots when leopard, bear or tiger are spotted but several days have gone by with all but pugmarks and alarm calls to satisfy the eager viewers. Personally the tension and thrill knowing a predator is hardly yards away and has been roaming the very roads and tracks man is treading is magic enough and it is important everyone appreciates the secret nature of animals in their world and so wonder at the final glimpse when it indeed comes.

The tigresses

Haimi - The resident female of the Damdama area of Khitauli range quenches her thirst on a blistering hot summer afternoon. (c) Sriskandh Subramanian
Haimi – The resident female of the Damdama area of Khitauli range quenches her thirst on a blistering hot summer afternoon. (c) Sriskandh Subramanian

Haimi. the Damdama tigress is as wonderful as ever when she is seen and displays a calm nature. She’s pretty clever too as it is only recently she has been seen with three cubs at her side having kept the secret of their existence for at least three months!  In contrast, news did break in early February that on one occasion a tigress was seen with small cubs literally playing and sitting on the road! The question is now was this Haimi or Indrani as Indrani too has recently been confirmed moving with at least two cubs by her side. It is wonderful news that both visible Khitauli tigresses are supporting new families both most probably fathered by Mukunda.

At one point last month one of the tigresses was spotted with a swollen leg and limping and elephants were sent to investigate. Unable to locate the tigress no one knows which one this was and it is hoped any injury has been resolved. Certainly recent sightings have not indicated any further limp or injury. Cats have an amazing ability to recover and all await a further sighting of both tigresses as summer progresses in order to evaluate ID of all cubs in tow.

The male tigers

The unidentified male tiger of Khitauli (c) 2014
The unidentified male tiger of Khitauli (c) 2014

For the male tigers of the area information has also been mixed. All thought Mukunda would become the King of Khitauli and show his beautiful young face willingly and often, but he has not been positively identified even moving in the area he occupied last season. In fact it is a new male tiger that has been spotted here and there, a tiger of no clear lineage, an unknown though he is probably Khitauli born or even an Indrani lost boy! This tiger is shy and elusive often slipping away to hide at the sound of vehicles approaching. Even one single vehicle annoys him and it is vital all vehicles entering Khitauli wishing to see the handsome young boy allow him the space and patience to make the first move rather than crowding him and getting too close. If this tiger is to be the new ruler of the Khitauli tourism zone he must be allowed the freedom to settle with as little disturbance as possible.

This male tiger’s presence could be the reason Haimi and Indrani are keeping their cubs carefully hidden much of the time though there has been news that Haimi was indeed seen with her new cubs and a male present. Could this male but the father Mukunda I wonder? Hopefully summer will reveal the answer to this question and his status in Khitauli. Only last year Haimi lost her old mate Mangal and was getting to know Mukunda and now with him an uncertainly she would not want to deal with a third suitor in just twelve months! It seems all three zones in Bandhavgarh are dealing with male uncertainty right now with the presence of as many males as females across the park.

Things will settle but it will take some time; Khitauli does not want to see the death of another tiger family as has happened to Wakeeta this winter when she has lost all four cubs.

Finally, as usual Khitauli offers good deer and antelope spotting with groups of sambar and nilgai the norm and plenty of chital around the Damdama area and visiting the pools dotted on the village edges. Leopard are seen and so too sloth bears at times. Birding is good too with a scops owl nest on view and plenty of woodpeckers active right now. More good news echoes across the forest with a recent sighting of the large Dhole pack (wild dogs) seen moving in the area again as summer temperatures begin to rise and the forest drops its leaves!

Khitauli indeed is offering up its bounty again this summer.

Credits: Tiger Nation 

Murphy

J2 Right flank (c) Kay Tiwari
J2 Right flank (c) Kay Tiwari

Murphy was brought up under the loving protection of her shy mother Jaya, alongside two sisters and a brother in the Rajbehra area of the park.

J2 Left flank (c) Kay Tiwari
J2 Left flank (c) Kay Tiwari

Reserve:Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh

Age:2 years old (juvenile)
Code:J2 (Ba)
First seen:May 2012
Gender:Female
 
Jaya and three of her four yearling cubs in May 2013 (c) Kim Sullivan
Jaya and three of her four yearling cubs in May 2013 (c) Kim Sullivan
J2 heads off across the forest after her brother June 2013 (c) Kay Tiwari
J2 heads off across the forest after her brother June 2013 (c) Kay Tiwari

Murphy was born in April 2012, alongside two sisters and a brother in a cave behind Rajbehra meadows. Her mother Jaya, (Rajbehra female) had acquired the territory from her mother when she died suddenly, and her sister Vijaya took over the next door territory of Chakradhara under the hill fort.

Seldom seen as young cubs, their mother was elsuive and kept her family well hidden in their early months and it was only in the heat of summer of 2013 that the family were increasingly in evidence in their famous Rajbehra and wherever their mother, the great provider, had found them a meal. Murphy was always shy, but it was her sister Crumbie (J4) who was fiercely independent, and was always causing great anxiety for her siblings and mother.

Follow Murphy on Tiger Nation as she grows up.

Murphy at just over 13 months old, you can see her permanent top canine appearing, now she is on the verge of independance. Photo: Kay Tiwari
Murphy at just over 13 months old, you can see her permanent top canine appearing, now she is on the verge of independance. Photo: Kay Tiwari

These Life stories have been brought to you by Kay and Satyendra Tiwari, and involved twenty five years of passion, note taking and intelligence while living on the borders of Bandhavgarh Reserve.

Credits: Tiger Nation

Handsome young Mummy’s boy by Kay Tiwari

Johnno this morning, looking impressive (c) Kay Hassall Tiwari
Johnno this morning, looking impressive (c) Kay Hassall Tiwari

Johnno has grown into an impressive young male. He was seen at Rajbehra junction with one of his sisters tracking up the dirt road towards the cool sandy dry river bed looking for a peaceful spot to rest and digest a recent meal. Both he and his sister look suitably content as they amble down amongst the rocks and flop down on the golden sand.

Johnno’s sister is restless though, perhaps over fed. She finds a more comfortable spot under a nearby tree on the bank with tall grasses as an under blanket and hankers down again to clean her paws and fur before collapsing and falling asleep. For an hour or so there is little movement but the twitch of an ear amongst the dappled forest.

Johnno gets up and decides to take a little wonder along a road closed to visitors before reappearing on the bank side and approaching his sister. Within seconds he too has vanished into thick bamboo cover and does not show his face again.

Meanwhile their mother Jaya is on the other side of the park near Sukki dam. She has a small kill and is feasting alone. Her cubs are almost two years old now and she is spending less and less time with the boisterous and demanding family of four and now looking after herself for a change.

Can Johnno now provide for himself in the future, or is he for wver going to rest on the hard work of a sister or mother?

Credits: Tiger Nation

Somanshu

V2 as an bold young teenager (c) Premlal Yadav
V2 as an bold young teenager (c) Premlal Yadav

Somanshu was a young male in the Tala zone, one of the three cubs of Vijaya’s first litter brought up in the heart of the park. Bold and gregarious. His sister was killed in May 2013 and its beleived he was killed by the same mystery male early in July 2013.

Somanshu (V2) ID Left Flank (c) Kay Tiwari
Somanshu (V2) ID Left Flank (c) Kay Tiwari
Somanshu (V2) ID Right Flank (c) Kay Tiwari
Somanshu (V2) ID Right Flank (c) Kay Tiwari

Reserve: Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh

Age: 3 years old (sub-adult)

Name Meaning: Moonbeam after his father

Code: V2 (Ba)
First seen: December 2011
Gender: Male
The family of three drink together side by side. April 2012 (c) Kay Hassall Tiwari
The family of three drink together side by side. April 2012 (c) Kay Hassall Tiwari

Somanshu was born in the late monsoon of 2011 and first seen in November 2011 as a small cub of approximately 2 months of age in the Chorbehra are, with two other siblings. Gregarious and bold as a youngster and born of the feisty tigress Vijaya under his star father Shashi. He is a tiger of the famous Sita bloodline but with the new blood of Shaki added through her mother’s lineage. Somanshu was born to a litter of three cub, with two sisters and part of his mother’s first litter of cubs.

Born and raised in the security of Chorbehra and Sidh Baba where he spent much of the first six months of her life with his siblings. He moved with the family to the Fort plateau during the late monsoon of 2012, when trouble brewed with males challenging his father.  He spent the winter months completing his first year in the company of his siblings and mother moving from kill to kill and enjoying the play ground of young life around Chakradhara meadow.

After a spirited childhood when he was often seen at play particularly with his spirite sister Balu,  while his sister V1 had turned into a shy reclusive young female before being killed by the dnagerous and mysterious male challenger to his father, Rahasy.

He was just gearing up to face the harsh rigours of life as a young male tiger within the forests of Bandhavgarh, when he was presumed to have been killed and found in early July in the Chorbehra area. It’s believed the same killer as that of his sister Rahasy, was to blame. However in February 2014 it was discovered that Somanshu was indeed still alive and well in her mother’s terrain after all. The problem then was who was the dead cub?

Credits: Tiger Nation

Where is Wakeeta’s only surviving cub? By Kay Tiwari

Is he the sole surviving cub of Wakeeta' last litter (c) Christina Habets-Little
Is he the sole surviving cub of Wakeeta’ last litter (c) Christina Habets-Little

Wakeeta, a petite tigress, lies behind cover of  fruit bearing bushes favoured by langur monkeys close to the sandy track. She has a sambar meal to occupy her time and is enjoying her feast.

The worrying aspect in her dining is the lack of her fourth and only surviving male cub.  Has it survived the ravages of his mother’s battles with marauding young tigers.

Having finished tearing flesh from the mangled carcass, she concludes her meal by licks her paws clean and then tidying up her coat in the same precise way, before lying down to doze nearby for a while. This meal will not last long, but it would fill her belly and that of her son for a day, with merely a scattering of  bones by next morning left for the mongoose and noisy crows.

For weeks now few have seen this mother and son pair together, not even their paw prints and the worry continues that poor Wakeeta has now lost her entire last litter as her distant cousin Yoshila did not so long ago in Magdhi.

Later Wakeeta’s delicate footprints lie in the sand at the edge of the road as she tracks off towards Ghorademon and her favourite resting places, but no youngster’s footprints indicate that her son has been at his mother’s side.

Credits: Tiger Nation

The dangerous young pretender by Kay Tiwari

Pushpraj - The young pretender with an eye to the main chance (c) Satyendra T
Pushpraj – The young pretender with an eye to the main chance (c) Satyendra T

A young pretender is elusive and introvert, broody and antisocial, but increasingly dangerous and aggressive. As a youngster he preferred his own company to those of his siblings and the henpecking of his mother. He never really liked his brother Kanvar and was often seen snarling at him as he preferred to spent time in the company of pretty sister Ananti.

Pushpraj today walks with a swagger, confident and assured as he strolls through the tangled and twisted branches of strangler vines that their sal tree hosts give succour too near Dabrua junction. Pushpraj spots a small herd of spotted deer ahead and stops and crouches to evaluate his position before a sharp eyed deer spots him and barks in alarm. His cover now blow, neither he nor the alerted deer take much notice of each other as Pushpraj continue his onward journey.

Now fully mature at three year’s old, Pushpraj is muscular and well toned, and is now sporting a couple of cuts on his muzzle, probably earned during a recent conflict with his father Shashi or perhaps from his mother Wakeeta trying to keep her eldest son from her latest brood, his half-brothers. How many fights this young braveheart has won is uncertain but he is making his mark and increasingly growing in influence.

While Pushpraj’s swagger and confidence grows it seems his father Shashi’s is on the decline. Could it be far sooner than expected that this young blade, moves from being called ‘the son of a flower’ to becoming the ‘King of Flowers’ in Bandhavgarh’s famed Tala range.

Pushpraj meanwhile sits on a small hillock and stares out across the rolling landscape that he now desires to call his own. It’s a familiar place, not only his birthplace and also home of both his mother Wakeeta (Banbehi ) and his aunt Tulsi (Mirchani) and both know him now for his ruthlessness and his persistence.

Is history repeating itself so soon?

Credits: Tiger Nation