Lithe bodies that flex athleticism in their slightest movement, kohl-lined eyes which bore through your frame and a visage that arrests the most confident onlooker into awe inspired paralysis is the effect these magnificent creatures have on all those who chance upon them. A restrained fierceness is their most potent weapon and you will not want to know what unsheathing it feels like.
In this series, Sher Bagh brings you a selection of our most prominent tigers, who are regularly seen and whose presence in the wilds of Ranthambhore continues to give us hope for the future of the Park and of wild tigers everywhere.
We begin with Noor (T39), the daughter of the Old Sultanpur Tigress (T13) who once inhabited the gorges and ravines of Kala Pani and Sultanpur (around Zone 1) and moved out, giving the territory over to her daughter. At just over four, Noor (her name means ‘Light’) is the youngest known mother in Ranthambhore and the mate of one of our fiercest prime males Ustad (T24). Sultan, their cub, at close to 14 months is already demonstrating many of the characteristics that go to define a tiger alpha male.
Two things really define Noor. The striking stripe patterns on her face; darkly pronounced streaks of black against fiery eyes, and her very successful kill ratio; in 2010, a group of Sher Bagh guests memorably witnessed her bringing down a sambar hind just a few metres from where we were observing her stalk. Rarely does a day go by when one does not hear of her upon a kill, usually of big game like sambar, in some part of her range. Raw energy, determined focus and the need to give her only cub the best provision and teaching are her defining characteristics. Her range stretches from Sinh Dwar on the main Park road to as far as Guda in the east and Kundal in the south, an area of some 70 sq. kms teeming with game and well provisioned with water. She has held this territory against some formidable competition. Sightings of Noor have been progressively frequent as she moves to becoming a more confident mother of a very confident male cub and visitors to Ranthambhore have seen her throughout her range, in the course of this last season. This once shy girl is not averse to flaunting her technique in full public view as she did at the start of the 2012 season when killing a wild boar late one afternoon while traffic plied the road under the parapets of the Ranthambhore Fort, right by her.
(Read more about a guest’s sighting of Noor on the main road)
Another endearing characteristic is the manner in which Noor will simulate cub like behaviour to keep her young son occupied. With no siblings to play and practise with, Sultan regularly seeks the company of his mother, who happily reciprocates, as any mother would. (Read more about Sultan.) For the next few months, Noor will expectedly continue to bring up her son. She faces challenges though. With one end of her territory bordering Brat’s (T19) domain, another young female, whose three cubs are now moving to create territories of their own; how will this young mother keep the pressure off? Will she cede territory to keep her son safe, or will she confront the competition? Sher Bagh will continue to bring you updates on these and other developments in young Noor’s life. For now, here is why we think this young girl is the stuff legends are made of.
Written by Yusuf Ansari
Photographs from the Sher Bagh archives.