Most news we hear about tigers is in regards to their precipitous decline. So you can imagine our delight when this image was shared with us, from photographer and wildlife enthusiast Nidhi Saraf who captured a rare, and frankly, magical event. Nidhi snapped this photo – of a tigress and her 5 cubs (yes 5!!) - on an early morning in Pench Tiger Reserve in India.
The tigress, fondly called Collarwali (meaning in Hindi “The One with the Collar”), has been radio collared and successfully monitored to date by the tiger experts at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
Tigers on average give birth to between two and four cubs, with cub mortality being around 30-40% (and possibly much higher), which makes this image even rarer. Collarwali’s cubs were born in January, 2011, making them approximately 11 months old. It is believed she has one male and four female cubs. Nidhi reports that this particular tigress is seen quite regularly in the park, but this is the first time all five cubs have been seen together with their mother. In a world where it seems that the tiger’s long-term future can be described as precarious at best, this image is a reminder that hope remains, and provides a glimpse into a future of what is possible.
A tigress and her five cubs walking in Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India.
About the photographer, Nidhi Saraf, in her own words: “About me, well, I am a marketing professional and currently work in the Consumer Goods Industry. I love travelling and enjoy photography. I have been a nature lover for a long time but it is my husband, Vinay’s passion for wildlife that has made me discover the gamut of experiences that nature offers. In the last three years, Vinay and I have spent most of our free time in the wild. We have had multiple occasions which have been memorable, but this particular sighting was possibly, once in a lifetime.”