In 2013, a tigress called Krishna (T19), daughter of the legendary Machali (from her last litter), dislodged her sister and took over the area around the lakes in Ranthambhore. Her two nearly full-grown sons helped her take over the area and stayed with her around the lakes for a few months before they dispersed. Krishna was born in this area and knew it well.
I have been fortunate to have photographically documented Krishna’s life from the time she was a cub. But I had not seen as much of her first litter growing up as I would have liked to. Most of that happened in a part of the national park that was closed to visitors, and I was very happy when she moved back to the lakes. She soon had her second litter – two females (Arrowhead and Lightning) and one male cub (Pacman), and I was thrilled. I saw the litter of three cubs for the first time when they were barely a few months old, and I was keeping track of them on a very regular basis. I had some great moments following them and one of these was an incident that had barely lasted ten minutes.
In March 2015, it had rained continuously one night and well into the next morning, and we were in the park trying to find Krishna and her three cubs who were by then over a year old. We saw a lot of pugmarks heading towards a big patch of vetiver grass near Rajbagh lake. We assumed that the mother and cubs or at least some of them were resting in the grass, so we hung around. For nearly three hours we did not even hear a single alarm call. Just when we were about to give up we got a glimpse of a tiger’s tail moving inside the grass.
A few minutes later, two cubs came charging out of the tall grass and started playing with each other.
The grass on the banks of the lake was soaked with water and there was a lot of splashing involved. I did miss the first few seconds of the action as I was not expecting them to just charge out like that, but I quickly got my act together.
For the next ten minutes, we witnessed a stunning display of play-fighting between two sub-adult tigers, with a lot of water splashing around and setting the scene for some incredible images.
For a very short moment, their third sibling joined in but most of the action that we saw was between Arrowhead and Pacman. Soon after all three of them charged back into the tall grass and we knew that the show was over.