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Hunting as a pack, 4 tigers overturn jungle laws

Documentary Girl Gang of Telia will be aired on Discovery Channel at 9 pm today.

Written by Garima Rakesh Mishra | Pune | Published: January 26, 2015 9:16:22 am
A still from Girl Gang of Telia. A still from Girl Gang of Telia.

Known to be solitary animals, tigers not only prefer to live alone but also hunt on their own. However, a group of four tiger siblings of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur has proved it otherwise. Since the four young tigresses were facing survival difficulties due to inexperience in hunting, they started hunting together as a pack. Their activities have been captured in cameras by Discovery Channel (DC). Shot over the last two years, the film, Girl Gang of Telia, will premiere in the country on Discovery Channel at 9 pm on January 26.

The documentary by Uday Sinh Wala tracks the four siblings — Mona, Seeta, Lara and Sonam — from childhood and shows how they hunted together despite separating once, claiming it to be an unusual phenomenon.

“We shot the four sisters coming together even after separating initially for hunting when about three years old. Now, of course, they are four years old, separated and are hunting separately,” Wala told The Indian Express.

G T Garad, Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, TATR, said:
“Generally, by the time a tiger or tigress is about two and a half years old, he/she is done learning the tricks and trades of hunting from its mother. It is also the time they reach their adulthood and go their own ways. However, in the case of these sisters, though they were well on their way to adulthood, they could not hunt on their own, and hence made an extremely rare sight of four adult tigresses walking, staying and hunting together. That’s when the one-hour film, which tracks the journey of these four tiger sisters as they unite to form an unprecedented bond, was shot by the channel.”

He added that on one rare occasion, the sisters were sighted with their mother as well as their father. “How often does one get to see six full-grown tigers together?” Garad asked.

Tiger Sisters of Telia, according to Rahul Johri, Executive Vice-President and General Manager, South Asia & Southeast Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, captures the extraordinary behaviour of four tiger sisters and their unique adaptation to survive. The film, he said, follows the four tiger sisters who had entrenched themselves well around the Telia Lake — the core of their mother’s territory. Once the tigresses grew older and stronger, instinct kicked in and they competed to take control of their mother’s territory. Their sibling-bond was broken. To survive independently, each had to hunt every week, and alone. However, each one struggled. Desperate and starved, the four siblings made a startling choice — to form an alliance.

“After forming a gang, in a matter of days, the tiger sisters became fearless and unstoppable. They took down a couple of sambar, stalked a guar (Indian Bison) and killed a sloth bear. The programme captures many such extremely rare occurrences and tracks the journey of tiger sisters as they unite to form an unparalleled bond — stronger than ever,” said Johri.

Among the four, Sonam was the most aggressive and dominant one. She has now chased away her three sisters and mother from Telia. While the mother has shifted to the buffer area, the three sisters have marked Mudholi, Jakana-Junona and Devada as their individual territories. “Sonam was recently sighted with another male tiger. She too, we are assuming, might deliver in a few months from now,” said Garad.

With inputs from Vivek Deshpande

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