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A Happy New Year's Day for Jaya and her Family

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The golden Rajbehra meadow was once the agricultural fields of a Gond tribal community who were relocated out of the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve in the 1970's.

Today their small village dam still exists in the middle of the meadow, providing life giving water for Jaya and her four boisterous cubs, now all as tall - if not as strong - as their mother.

On New Year’s day, the family were out to play in their playground after breakfast, mum having to find a suitable way to keep her brood out of trouble and burn off some of the excess energy that late teenagers need to expend on an everyday basis.

The sun’s rays were out after a misty morning start, the raw cold rapidly being supplemented by the warm winter sun on their backs; so much so that mum and her cubs decided to stay out in the open glade to garner its warmth, after the damp cold of the night in the forests from which they had emerged.

But kids will be kids, and cubs will be cubs, for the 3 youngsters could not stay still for long. Murphy, Johnnie and Trya cavorted around the area, biting each other’s tails before entering a scrummage match, while the more mature and independent girl, Crumbie, looked on dispassionately at their childish games.

Sibling bonding can provide young tigers - more often seen as loners in adult life - with lifelong friendships across their harsh jungle landscapes. Sadly for many though, sisters and brothers will split up on maturity, forced by parents or male challengers to break up and go their own ways, seldom to see each other again.

What is their future in 2014?


Copyright Akash Panchbudhe