Danger in Tiger Paradise
50 minute film for BBC2 Natural World and Discovery Animal Planet.
David Mitcham’s wonderful score won an award at Jackson Hole film festival for the Best Music and was also nominated for best score at this years Ivor Novello Awards.
Valmik Thapar, India’s answer to David Attenborough returns to Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, to witness the progress of Machli, a tigress that he has been following for four years (see alsoTigers’ Fortress BBC film).
Two years ago he saw Machli fight it out with her mother, the lady of the lakes for a piece of prime tiger territory around the beautiful lakes of Ranthambhore nestling below the ancient battlements of a Mogul fort, which gave the park its name. Machli won her battle and inherited a completely new set of problems. Machli now has to raise her family in the most difficult circumstances. The male she mated with to produce her first litter of two sons died and two new male tigers have moved in. To mate with her they may have to kill her cubs first. The question is can Machli hold them off long enough to raise her cubs in tiger paradise?
This film is full of unique and subtle tiger behaviour. We see two adult tigers & a male and a female in a fierce fight. The female & Machli & is not ready to mate yet and she is fighting off the attentions of a young male tiger & Nick – that has claimed her and her territory & he now wants to claim his prize. We see how Machli uses a delicate blend of seduction and strength to keep her cubs alive long enough to go off and survive on their own. Such tiger behaviour has never been seen before.
Whilst Machli struggles to feed and protect her family the cubs are oblivious to the race against time they are in to learn all the skills they need to leave their mother and make it on their own.
Eventually the cubs disappear and Valmik is not sure if the males have killed them or not. They had not made a kill for themselves before they disappeared so their future is far from certain. For 5 months Valmik searches the park for the missing cubs. During this time he finds another superb family with 4 young cubs & a rare sight & and realises that the tigers of Ranthambhore are “doing brilliantly inside the park”. This family has their father in tow so they stand a very good chance of surviving until maturity. But Valmik also knows that just outside the park there are more people and cattle than ever and he wonders if any new tigers could survive as they will pushed outside the parks limits by the older more experienced tigers.
Eventually one of the cubs is found & face to face with one of India’s most dangerous creatures the sloth bear. The survival of this young male is excellent news and bodes well for the future. Now we’re are sure Machli is carrying a new litter of cubs and that the new male is the father. This time around he won’t be a threat but a protector for both Machli and her cubs.
Nigel Buck edited this programme - visit his site it has some extra links: http://www.nigelbuck.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Tigers.htm
Producer Mike Birkhead
Cameraman Colin Stafford Johnson
Music David Mitcham
Editor Nigel Buck
Executive Producer Michael Gunton