Tadoba -Land of Legends
Tadoba is the forest which has provided us some wonderful insights into the life of a tiger. Some insights which we had already read in the books and some we have seen in the wild.
In our blog articles so far we have narrated stories of some of the famous tigers of Tadoba -Maya, Bajrang, Sonam, Gabbar. All of them have redefined or have enlightened us with unknown aspects of tiger behaviour. It would be unfair if we do not include one more name in this star list-Matkasur , resident male tiger of Maya and Choti Tara.
Matkasur- Pic by Niladri Kundu June 2016
Maya- Pic by Niladri Kundu, June 2016
Maya needs no introduction. She is the most beautiful tigress of Tadoba – a tigress who is seen by almost every tourist visiting Tadoba. Maya had multiple suitors at one point of time and just like the princesses of the past, Maya chose Matkasur but not before a series of dramatic events that unfolded on the terrains of Tadoba in 2016.
Matkasur’s Rise-Winning Maya and Battle with Bear
It was June 2016 when Maya was raising her second litter in Tadoba. The great Gabbar and young Matkasur both wanted to stake claim to her territory and of course mate with her. Amidst the fight for territory , the cubs got separated or rather Maya moved away to save them. As one of the scientists gave his opinion-“Maya’s territory overlaps with four males. Mating with them is the best strategy she adopted to save cubs. Had Maya been defiant, she and her cubs could have been either harmed or killed by the other males” .
The first time , when we saw Matkasur he was resting in the waters one evening. Just 24 hours earlier he had driven away one of the cubs -in fact we saw the cub running madly. It stopped to look back and then disappeared fast. Matkasur is young and well-built – a handsome male in his prime. No wonder he won over Maya after initially losing to Gabbar. Gabbar had won the first round of the battle between the two but Matkasur probably fought back sometime in 2017 . He has managed to keep the territory ever since and fathered Maya’s 3rd litter. For the first time, Maya has been able to rear her cubs in peace after the turmoil with her second litter and losing her first litter completely.
Encounter with Bear
Conservationists and wildlife lovers often record rare footages in the forest. We all know story of Machli killing a crocodile . This year (2018) in March, Tadoba witnessed the epic battle between a tiger and sloth bear. Many of us know that few years back Sonam and her siblings had killed sloth bear to feed on it -here Matkasur wanted to kill a sloth bear cub . But the mother stood firm and fought valiantly for 15 minutes or so with a full grown male tiger(almost twice her size) . The entire world probably is still in awe when they watch the bear match the tiger -for once Matkasur had to concede defeat. No wonder experts speak highly about a bear’s fur and claws as Matkasur was forced to leave the bear alone! He may have defeated powerful male tigers but here he had to surrender to the will power of a mother protecting her young.
Killing a Forest Guard
In May last year (2017), Matkasur killed a person who was on census duty and had squatted behind a bush to relieve himself. Speculations ran high whether Matkasur would be branded a man-eater or not. As per government guidelines, there has to be three killings before a tiger is labelled a man-eater. Matkasur was given the benefit of doubt- also he did not eat the body. Some experts feel when humans squat, tigers often get confused and accidentally kills thinking them to be monkeys or deer both of whom are regular prey. Most of the time it is a case of mistaken identity.
Pic: Matkasur head on-picture by Tirthankar Das, June 2018
Matkasur, Maya and Family
Matkasur , to his credit has been able to provide much needed protection to the cubs under him-both from Maya and Choti Tara (her litter is also fathered by Matkasur). But Maya is special to Matka for sure as many tourists have seen the family together (with cubs) . Males usually do not take part in rearing the cubs but Matkasur seems to be an exception much like Zaalim (T25 from Ranthambore) as evident from the family snapshots.
With no threats so far from Bajrang, the hulk who probably holds the record for commanding over the largest territory by a male and no signs of old Gabbar coming back, seven-year old Matkasur (in his prime) is poised to rule for sometime now though he should be more alert of sloth bear 🙂 . Nevertheless he is the undisputed ruler of Tadoba and the husband of beautiful Maya memsaab 🙂
Pic: Matkasur -picture by Tirthankar Das , June 2018
-Suddhasattwa Das and Niladri Kundu.