Tiger safari Ranthambhore - Do tiger siblings get along as adults?
There comes a time in all young wild tigers lives, when they are pushed away by their mother and have to try and establish territories of their own. This is a huge challenge in India's shrinking forests, where huge male tigers 'battle' over the prime territories. The question here is would siblings tolerate each others presence after the initial split from their mother? While on a tiger safari in Ranthambhore in February 2015 we were lucky enough to witness such an encounter and here is the story of the encounter.
As we entered Zone 4 on a tiger safari at Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary, all our senses were alert and primed in the hope of seeing one of the famous 'resident' tigers. We did not have to wait long, as just 30 minutes into the game drive we game across a relaxed young male tiger called Pacman. Pacman is the son of the famous Ranthambhore tigress called Krishna (T19) and although young, only 2 years old, he is gaining a reputation as one of the most photogenic and charismatic tigers in the park. Initially we witness a very relaxed and slightly sleep tiger, occasionally raising his head to watch sambar deer eat weed and grasses on the shores of the nearby Malik Talab lake. Suddenly we were aware of a second tiger approaching from the foot of the hill and our guide quickly informed us that this was lightening, his sister.
She approached slowly, with due deference to the larger size and power of her brother. When within a metre she raised her front paw slightly as if she was going to 'tag' him on his back legs, but deciding against this she continued to walk further behind him. As soon as she moved out of his visual range Pacman exploded to his feet and the photo above catches him in mid air as he reacts more to a perceived threat than an encounter with a sibling. What followed was a stunning example of male tiger postering and dominance with the sole aim (at least I assumed) of putting Lightening in her place. A huge arch formed in his back, emphasising his huge muscular shoulders; his mouth gaped to expose huge canines and a threatening bite. As quickly as this tiger volcano exploded it receeded; his mouth closed and their noses touched gently for several moments.
It is always easy to 'humanise' such encounters and the way that Pacman hung his head and looked straight down at the ground as his sister walked away, made you think that he was almost embarassed by his over reaction. However it is crucial to remember that for all wild tigers territory with good prey is key to their survival; as well as for their offsprings survial. So if you have to battle and even kill siblings (a possible scenario with brothers!) to hold on to your small patch of tiger paradise, then you will do whatever is neccessary.
If you would like to follow in our footsteps and photograph the wild tigers of Ranthambhore then here is the perfect India tiger safari for you.