He was first discovered in the company of his mother Noor (T39), the reigning tigress of the Sultanpur area, on a hot summer day in 2012. About 4 months old at the time, he was ready to stare down jeeps and canters even at that young age. For that reason, he was named Sultan, a title associated with kings and emperors, one which signifies authority.
Sultan’s pedigree is impeccable; his maternal line descends from the tigers of the Sultanpur area, his mother Noor is arguably one of Ranthambhore’s most effective huntress’ with an enviable kill ratio. His father is the legendary Ustad (T24), a name to reckon with on the ferocity charts. Sultan appears, even at 15 months to have imbibed the best of his parents’ genes. Only a few days ago, while practising his stalking he was able to approach a herd of nilgai antelope (Boselaphus tragocamelus) to within a few feet without them having noticed his presence. Given that he is far from grown up, the confidence of this young tiger was evident. Shortly afterwards he stalked a Sher Bagh jeep, glaring us down and forcing the reverse gears to work overtime, after which he placidly sat down on the road in front of us, licking his oversized paws.
Sultan is an unusual cub, among Ranthambhore’s current young ‘uns, being the single cub of his mother’s first litter. Consequently, he appears to miss the company of siblings to play, practise and learn with. Obviously aware of this, both his parents spend a lot of time with their boy, actually simulating playfulness and other behaviour associated with cubs in a litter. The exercise has given Sultan a level of confidence that is unheard of for a tiger of his age. In the company of his mother, he plays ‘protector’ and there is something of a ‘man of the house’ aspect in his behaviour as he positions himself between his mother and a jeep of spectators. With his father, he is physically expressive, slapping paws and fumbling about Ustad’s formidable frame.
[youtube width=”650″ height=”344″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrMYKWu0CBs[/youtube]
For everyone at Ranthambhore, the character of this young male tiger suggests a great future ahead (touchwood). His absence last month, for nearly 10 days from the Park scene saw many a nervous brow until he was discovered in characteristic form with his mother a few days’ ago. This is why we celebrate Sultan this week, here’s to the prince of Ranthambhore!
Written by Yusuf Ansari
Photography by Yusuf Ansari