Ranthambore tiger plays 'doting dad' to orphaned cubs

Ranthambore tiger plays 'doting dad' to orphaned cubs

Forest officials in the tiger reserve said the behaviour of the tiger, named T25, reflects a "complete role reversal" as male tigers are known not to be protecting their offspring.
"It's an extremely rare case where a male tiger seems to be playing the role of a doting dad to the motherless cubs," U M Sahai, Rajasthan's Chief Wildlife Warden, said.
"Normally, the mother takes care of the cubs till they are at least two years old, while the father is a visitor. The male is seen off and on, especially when he comes to mate with the tigress," he told PTI.

The cubs, which are about eight months old now, lost their mother in February this year. And T25 is believed to be their father, officials at the tiger reserve said.

The tiger's behaviour has been recorded by hidden cameras fitted in the reserve. The most recent images show that T25 is walking just a metre behind one of the cubs, said Rajesh Gupta, field director of Ranthambore.

Since the death of their mother, he said, the cubs are being raised in the wild by forest department staff.

As they are too young to make a kill, they are being provided food -- usually goat meat -- with a bait by the staff, he said.

"I have recently noticed one of the cubs eating the kill provided by our staff," Gupta said.
"They are seen in good health and it appears that the male tiger is allowing them to eat and not taking it for himself," he added.Like a considerate father, the big cat has also been seen confined to a reduced territory, perhaps to protect the cubs and save them from fatigue, the officials said.

Tiger cubs are born blind and completely depend on their mother for the first few days. Their eyes open in one or two weeks, but it takes another couple of weeks for them to see properly.

The mother teaches them how to prey and they begin hunting when they are around eight to 10 months old.

There are about 40 tigers, including about dozen cubs, in Ranthambore, one of the country's popular tiger reserves.