Shere Khan Steps Up

Big cats look cuddly when small and beautiful in photographs when large. Lions live in family groups and have lots of film footage making their celeb status secure. We sit in front of our TVs cooing over the cutesy cubs climbing over a tolerant dad or playing with his tail. These images make us forget that when a bigger and more handsome dad moves in and kicks the old one out, that the new guy's first bit of housekeeping is to kill the kits.

Most other big cats live a more solitary life and the dad is normally off courting elsewhere while mum brings the kits up. Adult males are usually bad news and are avoided. Tigers are not easy to follow around and study as they prefer the forest to open plains, but they fit the solitary cat pattern.

A feel-good tiger story popped up this week out of the Ranthambore tiger reserve and was reported by the BBC (1). Tiger mom with the rather terse name T5 had a couple of cubs last year and was doing a good job bringing them up. Unfortunately, early February saw T5’s demise. The pair of young cubs were being kept going by the reserve staff providing lunch.

The jungle is very dangerous for little cubs and it was nice to see that their dad, T25, has stepped up and is looking after them. This is very unusual and heartwarming as male tigers frequently see baby tigers as warm snacks if the see them at all.

The story would make a good Disney movie in the vein of Bambi whose dad took him in hand after his mom went to the venison purveyor in the sky. I hope the ‘Beeb’ will keep us updated on their progress. In an age of unremitting ecological bad news, we need more heartwarmers to keep our spirits up.


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