Ranthambhore: A Coming Tale of Turf Wars and Territory

Ranthambhore, which literally means, “the place of the pillars of war” may have had a contested history that we are all familiar with, but the battles still rage below the ramparts of the fort. Roaring cannons have gone silent and cavalry charges have ceased, but the present denizens of Ranthambhore – of a longer standing than the fort itself – are preparing for battle in the months to come. As summer approaches and the annual cycle of fewer waterholes ebbs towards a reality, an entirely new generation of tigers is on the move, looking for new territories and preparing to take on presently dominant adults. In this week’s blog we look at just some of the tigers and tiger families which are preparing to either leave the protection of their mothers or waiting for new challengers to appear in their domains.


Noor (T39) is months away from driving away her daughters and who knows how that familial fracas will turn out. With the four of them compacted into one territory, it is likely Noor will have to cede some ground to her young ones. Adjacent to Noor’s turf lies the now divided realm of her former adversary Dussehri (T60), the daughter of the late Mrs. Mango. While Dussehri has already parted ways with her three sub-adults, those tigers are looking for their own patch now. Could Arrowhead (T84), the present “Lady of the Lakes” find herself faced with a pincer movement into her territory? And what of the dominant males? For two of them, the Indala Male (T57) and Mustanda (T64), both separated from each other by the vast swathes of Ranthambhore times could get tough. The Indala Male may find that keeping Ustad’s territory is more difficult than gaining it while for Mustanda, already embattled with frequently fighting his neighbours, the arrival of a new male, in the form of T 41’s young male sub-adult may prove the last straw.


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Ranthambhore has always been the Tiger’s realm and like in any other realm, the ruler must fight off intruders. Ranthambhore’s tigers have always sought ways to accommodate each other, but with a surge in the present tiger population, territorial conflict is a reality many dominant tigers will soon have to face. Photograph by Jaisal Singh.
Noor (T39), is almost ready to drive away her daughters and this is probably the last Spring the family will spend together. Still in her prime, the matriarch will perhaps be able to hold on to much of her territory, for now. The bonhomie in this picture (from last Summer) is however, unlikely to last long. Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.
After a remarkable stint at holding on to the coveted Lake Territories of Ranthambhore and finally reaching motherhood (just days’ ago), Arrowhead (T84) has proven a successful bearer of the mantle that comes with being “The Lady of the Lakes” in Ranthambhore. But there will soon be challengers to her run. To the west, Noor’s (T39) three females are fast outgrowing their mother’s shadow and one of them is particularly feisty. If Noor manages to hold on to her own territories, there is little doubt that at least one of her daughter’s will make her way through the gorges and into the Lake Territories. Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.

T57, the Indala Male is the father of Noor’s three female cubs and while he had an easy time slipping into the territory vacated by Ustad’s (T24) departure he is unlikely to have it quite so smooth going forward. The soon to be dispersing sub-adults of Dussehri (T60) might make for formidable challengers. One of the latter, also known as ‘The Temple Tiger’, given his frequent visitation of abandoned shrines around his territory, is already making forays into T57’s territory. Whether this is a wake-up call for the Indala Male remains to be seen but the battle-lines are drawing near. Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.

Beyond the Lake Territories and the gorges around Guda, another young tiger is ready to take his first steps into adulthood. T41’s only sub-adult is unlikely going to stay by his mother’s side for long. On one side he has the fearsome Mustanda (T64) to contend with, on the other the relatively unknown territories of his likely father Tank (T74). Where is this young one likely to go once the summer is past? Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.
Never in any mood to give any quarter, Mustanda (T64) is one of Ranthambhore’s most fearsome male tigers. Born of T19’s first litter, the male, now in his prime has seen off some tough competition to create the territory he has. His duels with Tank (T74) continue intermittently but by the looks of it, Mustanda is ready to take on and drive away any would be intruders into his present domain. Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.

The Temple Tiger is a likely challenger to the Indala Male’s domination, but he is as yet too young. Bold, audacious and unperturbed at the worst of times this young male will soon need a range of his own. Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.
Water, or the lack of it with the onset of summer is going to be a flashpoint for several of the younger tigers around Ranthambhore. Photograph by Yusuf Ansari.

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