A million tiger images float around the web – uploaded to facebook or twitter by excited first time visitors, amateur naturalists, famous photographers or expert biologists. Each image tells its very own personal story – but behind each image is a real tiger’s life – seldom told, often surprising and always fascinating.Today’s living legends, are our favourites; iconic feline superstars by dint of birth or strength of character. They were born or live their lives in well visited zones in some of India’s best-loved landscapes.
Shashi (Bamera) – Bandhavgarh
Photo: Shivaram Subramaniam.
Shashi (Bamera) is aptly named after the Hindi word for the moon owing to his nocturnal habits and the vast distances he covers at night in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh. His sheer size and extrovert personality has helped him to forge a kingdom and a huge dynasty to match his boundless energy. A favourite of all who see him, he seems to gloat in their admiration, unperturbed by meandering visitors and unafraid of their villages and homesteads.
Munna (Langda) – Kanha
Photo: Santosh Saligram.
Born in 2003, Munna is perhaps the most photographed and most easily recognisable tiger in the Kanha Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh today due to his preferred terrain and striking facial markings. He has a dominant ‘CAT’ marking on his forehead. Despite not being particularly big, he has battled his way to dominance, which at times has led to injury. His ascendancy was tough and included many fights particularly during 2005 and 2006 when he was consolidating his territory. In one of the fights he sustained a leg injury (which has healed almost completely now) giving him a limp, hence the name ‘Langda’ or the limping one.
Collarwali – Pench
Photo: Harsh Piramal.
The dusty, deciduous Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, is home to several tigers. Over the years, each one has come to be well-known and sought after. One of them, T-15 or Collarwali (one with a collar), the daughter of Barimada, the star of the celebrated BBC documentary Spy in the Jungle (2008), is probably one of the most famous tigresses in India today (Sanctuary Vol. XXXIII No. 4, August 2013). Her father, T1, fondly called Charger of Pench was equally popular.
Telia Female (Madhuri) – Tadoba
Photo: Sudhir Shukla.
A mature tigress and an excellent mother, the Telia (Madhuri) Female is the pride of the Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. She frequents the Telia Dam, hence the name. Her territory encompasses about 20 sq. km., which is quite large. After mating with the Waghdoh Male, she gave birth to four female cubs that were popularly known as the ‘Girl Gang of Telia’. Latest information from the reserve suggests that she has now moved to the buffer zone and mated with the Waghdoh Male again and littered three more cubs.
Jai – Umred Karhandla
Photo: Indraneel Dani.
Jai and Viru, two male tigers were born in 2010 to the tigress Mai, who is responsible for maintaining the tiger population in Nagzira and has reproduced about five generations to date. While three-and-half-year-old Jai migrated in search of a female, there is no trace of Viru. Jai’s claim to fame was the 120 to 130 km. journey he undertook to reach the Paoni range of the Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, which was recently thrown open to tourists.
Machli – Ranthambhore
Photo: Aditya Singh.
Seventeen-year-old Machli is the longest surviving tiger in the wild, and is true tiger royalty. Brought up around the lakes, temples and fort of Ranthambhore, her life has long been in the media spotlight. Films, books and even lifetime achievement awards have made her a star of the wild tiger world. The real Machli was her mother who gave birth to this ‘lady of the lakes’ in 1997. Aditya Singh of the Ranthambhore Bagh says: “The BBC wrongly identified her as Machli and the name stuck.”
Vijaya (Kankatti) and cub – Bandhavgarh
Photo: Shivang Mehta.
Vijaya (Kankatti) is a young mother to watch. Her name suggests it came at a steep price. Vijaya means ‘victory’ in Hindi; a name she has earned through fierce territorial fights, the end of one being the gruesome death of a beautiful tigress named Lakshmi, whose food-rich jungles she wanted for herself. She still bears the scars on her face. Few will dare challenge this female champion of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve over the coming years.
Waghdoh Male (Scarface) – Tadoba
Photo: Sachin Rai.
Huge and intimidating – this is Waghdoh (Scarface), the dominant male of the Moharli Range in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. He was blinded in the right eye following a tussle with a male gaur. Though a little grumpy occasionally, he is a very caring father to his new families. Currently, he occupies the buffer area of Tadoba and was seen recently lifting a half-eaten gaur, clean off the ground before he carted it away to the cover of deeper forest.
Charamma – Corbett
Photo: Daanish Shastri.
This mother of four – Charamma (thus the name Char – four; Amma – mother) is one of Corbett’s most popular cats. She has managed to carve a territory for herself in the rich Bijrani Range of the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Visitors passing through the Amdanda gate must drive five kilometres to get to Bijrani, and most exhort their vehicles to get quickly to ‘Charamma’s area’, little-knowing that her family’s sal and grassland territory began the very moment they crossed the gate.
Tiger profiles brought to you by the editor of Tiger Nation, Julian Matthews. Register with www.tigernation.org and you can contribute your photos to a photographic database of India’s tigers and follow their daily lives.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIV No. 2, April 2014.