An encounter with Tigress Langdi (T20)
A mother’s dilemma as witnessed by Sudipta Chakraborty while visiting Pench.
Pench – the name evocates the memories of childhood stories from Kipling’s Jungle Book. Home to SherKhan, Mowgli, Bageera and Bhaloo, Pench is steeped in our psyche with feelings of romanticism and curiosity of the equally famed tigers that ruled it’s domain. One such is the tigress T20, often called Langdi. Born with a twisted right font paw, Langdi is one of the most successful breeding females from Pench.
She is the Queen of Pench national park in MP and holds a vast territory with 2 watering holes. Langdi had four cubs. The incident happened in 2019 when the cubs were just 3 months old. Observing her for the last 3 days, it is clear that she gave her full time to her cubs. But today she had to go for a hunt. She needs food for herself and the cubs. Early morning, she left her cubs and goes for a hunt. But she was unsuccessful. She was visibly very tired due to her unsuccessful chase, and was seen taking rest on the road around an hour.
Suddenly she heard her cubs call and she immediately goes to her den.
She fed them and spent some time with them. But she was very hungry too. She had to hunt something that day. She went again for another try.
Spotting a group of spotted deer very near to her, she targetted one of them and hid herself in the thick grass land.
She was fully ready now. Hopefully she would succeed this time. But suddenly one of the deer started a calling and everyone in the herd ran immediately. The hopeful situation totally changed with in a fraction of second. She was not expecting it again. May be that was a bad day for her. She became frustrated and felt sleepy.
Deciding to try again the next day, Langdi retired to her cubs, disheartened.
A tiger’s success rate for hunting is 10 percent. It’s a very difficult time for a mother tigress when she has cubs with her. Tigresses are overly cautious and secretive when caring for their young cubs. She will immediately move them if the area becomes disturbed or threatened. She has to protect her cubs from male tiger/leopard and other predators of the jungle. A tigress is solely responsible for the protection and care of her young cubs in first few months. She leaves her cubs only for short periods of time to drink and hunt. The mothers spent nearly 70 percent of their time to nursing her cubs initially after birth. It reduces to 30 percent when her cubs become a month old. Hence she will hunt for sustenance very infrequently, since she cannot leave her cubs alone for extended periods of time. Whether humans or tigresses, mothers are truly a force of nature.