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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Carnal Carnivores: Tigers in Love

[Rajasthan. June 2019] 

The largest cat in the world is Panthera Tigris. Males can weigh over 600 lbs and have canines 3.5" long; to see these magnificent carnivores, one has to travel to Asia. And in Asia, India's vast jungles hold about 70% of the global population of this endangered species at places like Ranthambhore National Park (Rajasthan state). A summer vacation to this venue afforded this blogger an opportunity to observe both mammalian and avian s eirpecies with the famed tiger being the star attraction.

The breeding season for the striped carnivore is timed to coincide with the fecundity that the monsoon season brings to the subcontinent every summer. A safari through the Ranthambhore jungle in late June (just before the park closes for a 3-month period) brought upon a surprise observation of two tigers in an amorous yet fierce encounter -- equal parts aggression and love.

These fearful beasts had used a clearing in the jungle as their love nest. Although generally solitary, at this time, the tigers were inseparable. The cycle of love consisted of the male circling the female, approaching her cautiously, followed by a bout of vigorous sex. 

Post the session, the male retreated to his corner to rest and regain strength.

Only to resume his duties again:

The female could be moody:

The jungle primates (Hanuman Langurs) were confused. The tigers were not interested in hunting; and the langurs looked at the sex spectacle with their mounts agape at the marathon carnal antics of the carnivores. 

The following day, visiting the same site showed that the love nest had been vacated. The male was still around, though -- limping and lethargic. The forest ranger surmised that the injured tiger was likely involved in a fight for the female with another male: 

Elsewhere in the jungle, previous year's cubs had already grown up to sub-adulthood and looked formidable:

The tigers here are supported by an abundant prey base of wild boar, deer and antelope:

Antelope (Chinkara or Indian Gazelle):

The jungle itself has pretty diverse habitats -- including dense jungle, grassland, marshes and abandoned structures from the days of the maharajas.

At the entrance of the park:

The age of the maharajas is now over in India; yet, the king of the jungle still rules. And, every monsoon love is in the air as the king and the queen engage with ferocity in the dance of love as they mark the cycle of regeneration for the next generation of tigers. 


Bob Pelkey said...

Spectacular documentation, Hemant. Your timing to see the coupling of the tigers was extremely fortuitous.

Digital Plume Hunter said...

Thanks Bob! It was indeed a special and unique observation!