“To have behavioural patterns an animal must move different parts of its body in a coordinated manner”
Which behavioural patterns do we think are the most interesting of all? In my opinion it is the breeding behavioural norms of all living creature that has turned our Planet into the vibrant, fascinating, living planet we have the opportunity of observing today.
One misty winter morning we were traversing Kanha’s winding routes during a safari – listening to all the collective sounds of the jungle. We halted near a large water body to watch all the winter visiting birds. We observed Pintails (winter visitors) paddling across the water, leaving arched ripples on its surface. After watching the fine plumage of these visiting ducks for some time, we drove a little ahead and suddenly spotted a large, fresh Tiger pug mark planted right on top of the previous vehicle’s tracks. Examining these for a few seconds, we realized the dominant male Tiger had very recently patrolled this particular area, but there had been no alarm calls, and no prey species had been seen at all.
Lack of air shattering alarm calls from the abundant prey species in Kanha makes progress difficult in tracking tigers, or any predator. After listening intently to the jungle we proceeded and waited on top of a bridge – again not one single alarm call was forthcoming! Normally if a tiger is around there should be some kind of indications as to its presence. Maybe there were no animals in the vicinity, or perhaps the tiger has passed by in hurry. I was quizzing myself, waited for few minutes, and then I drove a head for more clues – such as more pug marks, sent and scratch markings etc. But there were no visible signs – making our search complicated, yet exhilaratingly interesting.
Suddenly I had a hunch and turned the vehicle around, following my intuition and stopped again. Almost at once I heard the Tiger, and there he was, in the grasses walking straight towards us. He came and stood staring at us. A line from William Blake masterpiece sprang to mind – “what immortal hand or eye”, and suddenly another tiger appeared, but she went directly under the bridge.
The male Tiger walking back up from the jungle stream.
The Tiger lapped up water from the nearby flowing stream, turned and walked back up into the jungle, and the female followed.
Observing tigers is a rare experience, but to watch a courting pair is an even rarer phenomenon. To watch the breeding behaviour of Tigers is one of the rarest and most captivating of experiences you can ever hope for in the jungle.
Naturalist at SJL
Kanha National Park, M.P.