“The Spy in the Jungle” was one of the first documentary of BBC to peek into the family life of Tigers in India. Barimada tigress and Charger of Pench with their 4 cubs were the main actors . Little did everyone know that one of the cubs would grow up to be a legend one day and contribute to the building of upcoming generations of tigers in Pench.
It has been close to 15 years since the film was made and she is still going strong- bold and tactful and tender and caring at the same time. T15 or Collarwali has rewritten the tiger record books . She has delivered eight litters comprising 30 cubs till date (most by a tigress in the wild – please see below for details ) starting from 2008 which surpasses the litters that of matriachs of other forests- be it the great Machli of Ranthambore or queen mother Sita of Bandhavgarh or Madhuri of Tadoba. No wonder why she is called the Mataram of Pench.
Pic: Collarwali on a morning walk with her cubs
Pic: Collarwali’s Cub from Eighth Litter
Collarwali , unlike other Tiger mothers has been an exception. She is known to be an excellent strategist and a smart , clever tigress who allowed her cubs to fend for themselves earlier than usual. After losing her cubs from her first litter, she stayed away from her sub-adult cubs from the second litter for 16 days at a stretch! She stayed within a radius of 1.5 km , hunted as usual but never took the kill to her cubs or called them to the kill. As forest officials wondered what could be the reason for her actions, Collarwali was spotted with intruding male T30 (He had taken over the territory of T2 , father of the cubs). She was protecting her cubs by luring the powerful male away. (desperate times desperate measures as they say)
The cubs finally driven by hunger managed to kill as Collarwali still stayed away . It was on the morning of the 16th day, when she reunited with her cubs . When it comes to managing males,Collarwali has been equally successful -she has mated with powerful males like T2, T30, Raiyakassa (one with whom her bonding lasted for 7 years starting from 2012). Enchantress and brave as she is , Collarwali has been known to take her cubs out for long walks. It was one of such walks when we met her . She walked confidently besides the gypsies and never seemed to be bothered about her cubs’ safety in presence of human beings. As she gradually faded away from my vision followed by her cubs, Nature’s eternal truth emerged once again –
“Life does not come with a manual, it comes with a Mother”
Pic: Collarwali with her Cubs (Eighth Litter)
References: Media articles featuring Collarwali, guides and friends.