The only thing better than seeing a tiger in Ranthambhore is seeing a tiger pole-dancing!
Wow, here was behaviour I hadn’t seen before. Lightning ( aka Bijli ) was hungry today. She had missed a lot of chances to make a kill that morning and seemed exhausted but kept walking about aimlessly near this tree. Now tigers usually mark territory by spraying urine on trees or get up on their haunches to sharpen their claws on the bark, or if they are relatively young, they use trees like a kids do a jungle gym.
Here she eyed the tree and in a flash she leapt up high into the branches, grabbing a few which snapped under her weight. It must have easily been 12 or 13 feet vertically. She fell back to the ground rather inelegantly for a tiger, dusted herself off and continued her meandering.
Now why did she do that?
Later that evening, over a drink, I was told by my friend Balendu that tigers also gauge the size of another tiger that might have trespassed through their territory by the height of the claw marks on the tree. He thought she was probably trying to ‘cheat’ a bit about her size since the real estate she prowls is in heavy demand as prime tiger habitat. Nita, however didn’t buy that and felt she was just being a ‘feisty young gal’!