Three generations of Tigers of Kanha

Posted by on 21st October, 2016.

Sighting three generations of Tigers of Kanha was a deeply satisfying feeling after sighting Chotta Munna in Kanha in 1st week of October. But it was short lived by the good news of Dhawajhandi Tigress seen with her litter of four.

Satisfied feeling because this completed my 3 generations of following a particular family tree of Tigers.  And short lived because the 4th generation is ready to be seen. Dhawajhandi Tigress has most likely mated with Chota Munna and her litter of 4 cubs was sighted on 16th October 2017. A great news indeed. But giving me sleepless nights as to when will i get to see them and be amongst the first to see four generations of a particular family of Tigers in Kanha.

It is a feeling of elation to have witnessed three generations of dominating Tigers. Let’s begin with the father of them all.

The famous Limping male, the first of the three generations of Tigers of Kanha

He ruled Mukki for a considerable time. It was because of him that his legendary son, Munna, could not be accommodated in Mukki, and he had to move towards Kisli. Munna often went to Sarhi, and once in a while into the buffer as well.

I saw Limping male for the first time in February 2008 sitting in his territory. He was called limping male as he walked with a limp due to a persistent injury which kept recurring. His foot injury had got aggravated and the forest department had decided to treat him. He sat here surrounded by four elephants. The doctor arrived with the medicine and we moved. That was the last i saw of him.

Limping male passes the baton to the legendary Munna

It was next year that i saw Munna in Kanha zone from atop an Elephant for the first time. It was the summer of 2009, he was cooling himself off next to a water hole. Munna carries with himself a unique photo id. CAT written in bold on his forehead. Any Kanha lover can identify him with this mark. He was about 7 years old then. Today he is well over 15 and is still going strong. When i say strong it means he is still a dominating Tiger in his area. This is not normal. It clearly are signs of an exceptional set of genes and a smart Tiger.

I call him smart as he knows how to assess his opponents strength, when to withdraw and when to strike. Due to this approach he has strategically removed lot of male Tigers from his territory. And this is the trait he has passed on to his two sons, Umarpani male and Chotta Munna.

Usually Tigers start to fade away by 12 years of age. But at 15 years Munna is successfully protecting his territory, and is making regular kills in the forest. Not seen so often now compared to two years back, but seen nevertheless. His sighting brings joy unmatchable to the tourists, the drivers and the guides. It was his advent in Kanha that pushed many male Tigers astray. Tigers which were seen earlier in Kanha dispersed with his strong presence. He has successfully passed on his strong genes to two big males in Kanha today.

Umarpani male, the first of the third generation

First is the Umarpani male whose mother was a giant of a Tigress known as Umarpani female. Munna did not let this strong kid of his to settle anywhere close to his territory so he pushed Umarpani male into his father’s area, a blessing in disguise for him. He has also mated with Mahaveer Tigress and has produced 4 cubs. So if i happen to see them this December that also will be a complete fourth generation for me.

Chotta Munna; second of the third generation

Second strong challenger of Kanha is Chotta Muna. Also known as Link 7 by some and Linku by few is sired by Munna, and his mother is Link 7 female. In my previous posts i have mentioned Umarpani male as one of the biggest Tigers i have seen in my 28 years of safari, and i maintain that. A Tiger is big by size, and attitude. and Umarpani male has both, he is a beast. And he has proven that by the way he gave a fatal injury to Kingfisher (Rajaram) in December 2015.

But Umarpani’s size does not take away anything from Chotta Munna. This guy has it all going for him in his stride. A cool cat for sure. He showed his signs of dominance when he started to take on big Tigers like Bheema, Kingfisher and even Umarpani male very early in his life. Everyone felt he was foolish. But only he knew that he had openly challenged their dominance. No doubt he got injured severely on some occasions but as they say that what does not kill you makes you stronger. So he is today, a rock. I was privileged to see him on 4th October in Mukki.

It was in 2015 October that he had a mortal combat with Bheema and put him to rest. Lot of hearts were broken as Bheema was no less a Tiger, but deep down we knew that this is good for Kanha, as only the best genes will be passed on.

With the new litter from Dhawajhani Tigress which is most likely sired by Chotta Munna one can say that the fourth generation is ready.

Eager to see the young ones in December 2017.

Best Wishes.

Sharad Vats