Two tigers clashed at the Ranthambore reserve on Friday after the female big cat, a mother of a six-month-old cub, resisted mating attempts by the male, officials said.
The female big cat, T-41, is seven-year-old, and the male, T-74, was born in 2011, reserve officials said.
“It was not a territorial battle since such clashes happen between animals of the same gender. It appears that T-74 approached T-41 with a desire to mate, which the latter thwarted by engaging in a fight with the male,” said Sudharshan Sharma, deputy field director of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.
In the fight that lasted for a few minutes and was captured on a camera, the roaring tigers clawed at each other and tried to outmanoeuvre the other. The clash ended in a tie with neither animal getting an advantage.
“When a female tiger is the mother of a young cub, she is generally reluctant to engage in mating. Her 6-month-old cub could have been the reason why T-41 reacted violently when T-74 approached her,” said Sharma.
The clash happened near the Bakola area, frequented by big cats because of water availability and greenery. Officials said T-74 established himself as the dominant male in the area recently after driving away other males including T-25, the former partner of T-41 and the father of her 6-month-old cub.
“T-74 is the grandson of Machhli (known as the queen of Ranthambore, who died on August 18 last year). Before it approached T-41 for mating on Friday, T-74 was also seen with T-19, the daughter of Machhli and his aunt. It is possible that the two are mating,” said Rajiv Garg, a veterinary doctor at the reserve.
Machhli, one of the most-photographed animals, was the world’s oldest living tiger till her death at the age of 19.
“According to the 2015 tiger census, the reserve has more male tigers are more than females, and that is why there are often clashes between the animals in the mating season,” said Sharma.
T-41 was seen lying in the water for a long time after the fight. Officials said both the animals were not spotted on Saturday morning.