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Newsletter 119
11/08/15

Sariska From Birth Till Death

Hello Friends 

Sariska was born on the 10th of January 2009 at 10:30am in the morning.  His mother is Shadow and his father was Ron.

I have reason to believe that he was the 3rd cub born and as he emerged into the world. Shadow was crouching, not lying down.‎ The anxiety in my voice is clear as I say "you are going to crush the cub" in the film Tiger Man of Africa. Fortunately for Sariska, as Shadow sat down he slipped out like a piece of soap from underneath her.

Four healthy cubs were born that day including Corbett, Panna and Sariska. The fourth cub, was crushed two weeks after the birth when Shadow sat on it. Three cubs survived.

Shadow kept the cubs well hidden for the first 5 months except for one occasion when Sariska was 3 months old. A poacher had set a wire snare above an antbear hole hoping to catch an antbear ‎as it exited the burrow.  Scenting that the antbear was down the burrow, Sariska (3 months old) went down to investigate. The wire snare caught him around the waist and tightened as he struggled to free himself.

Forty-eight hours after he was caught, I found him weak and exhausted in the snare. By trapping his head to the ground we were able to cut the wire snare off with a pair of pliers. (The sequence is in the film Tiger Man of Africa). After this incident, Sariska was exceedingly shy and would run from the vehicles and hide. For two years very few pictures were captured of Sariska.

As time went on, it became very clear that Corbett was exceedingly aggressive while Sariska and Panna were shy.

In the floods of 2011, four hundred metres of the perimeter fence was washed away. Corbett immediately swam out into the farm land. Sariska never ever left the park, even though there was no fence.

During his third and fourth year Sariska was not able to capture a territory. Being smaller than other males, Sariska was always running away to avoid a fight. On one occasion when Seatao was pursuing him, Sariska went down an antbear hole backwards and so protected his rear end. Now Seatao was forced to approach him from the front. At this point Sariska slashed Seatao’s face opening an 8 inch gash down his lip.

On other occasions Sariska defended himself by standing on top of rocks, or in pools of water.‎ He learnt to use the electrical fence to protect his rear, forcing his opponent to approach from the front.

At the age of 5, Sariska captured a territory in the south of Tiger Canyons. He immediately impregnated the Tigress Ussuri and 3 cubs were born. Sariska then expanded his territory northwards and captured a small portion of the river. This area overlapped with Tibo (Tibo is the only wild white tigress in the world). After mating with Tibo, she too produced 3 normal coloured cubs. (Sariska was not a carrier of the recessive white gene.)

After impregnating Tibo, Sariska immediately withdrew from the area, leaving Tibo with no protection. Fortunately for Tibo and her cubs, her brother Mahindra took over the territory. (Because Mahindra is Tibo's brother and therefore invested in the cubs, he protects the cubs and has assumed the role of father.)

Two weeks ago Mahindra began to expand his territory to the south and began to exert pressure onto Sariska. I was not particularly concerned because although Mahindra is bigger than Sariska, Sariska was a far more experienced fighter.

On the 7th August 2015 we found Sariska dead and from the grass and tracks I deduct the following:

Mahindra, after chasing Sariska for two days without success, had left the area and headed back north. Sariska, fatigued from the running had lain down to rest and fallen asleep. Mahindra had returned to the area and found Sariska sleeping. Mahindra stalked him and jumped on him.  Mahindra’s top canine had penetrated behind Sariska's ear and a lower canine had gone into his throat.

Normally when two male tigers fight, the grass is flattened and pieces of fur litter the ground. Here‎ there was none. The only flattened grass was where Sariska was sleeping. I believe Mahindra jumped on him and Sariska never got back on his feet. The top canine, 5 inches long, traveling downwards with 1,500 lbs per square inch force, penetrated Sariska's brain and killed him instantly.

I greatly regret that I did not remove a fence earlier. The removal of this fence would have allowed Sariska a bigger area into which to escape.

Sariska nearly died when he was born, he came close to death when he was caught in a wire snare and he evaded many attacks from larger males. He spent long periods of time playing with his cubs. This is unusual for a male tiger. Sariska always allowed Ussuri and the cubs to feed before him. This too is exceptional. Although not fond of the camera lens, (Sariska would often turn his head away from the lenses), many magnificent pictures and film have been taken of him.

He leaves 6 normal cubs, Antoine, Jameez and Marguerite. The three cubs fathered with Tibo have not yet been named.

James Corbett, the great hunter of man eaters, described a male tiger as "a wholehearted gentleman". Sariska was shy and gentle by nature, a thorough gentleman.

I feel exceedingly privileged to have known him. He enriched my life greatly.

He will be sorely missed.

RIP Sariska
10/01/2009 - 07/08/2015

Tread Lightly on the Earth
JV

Tread lightly on the Earth

info@jvbigcats.co.za
Copyright 2007 @jvbigcats  All rights reserved


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