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.
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.