The Life Story of a Tigress

It is interesting to view the tiger at an individual level rather than globally or as a species. You can learn something about the tiger as a species that way that you cannot learn when you see the bigger picture. Charles McDougal, an author of the book: Great Cats - Majestic Creatures of the Wild had this opportunity. He writes that he was able to "document highlights" in the life history of a tigress named Chuchchi. I would just like to recite those highlights here if I may, on the internet.

Chuchchi was born sometime before 1972 and had her first cubs in June of 1975. She was known to have produced five litters and 16 offspring but others may have gone unrecorded. Eleven of the cubs survived to adulthood - to the age where they can disperse to find their own home range.

As is usually with female tigers, three of the female offspring found home territory close to the natal range (mother's territory). One was able to establish a territory because the resident female had died. The second female offspring (born in 1979) set up home in a 10 square mile territory in part of her mother's home range - the northern part. This left mother occupying the southern part of her range. The third, born in 1982 forced her mother out of what remained of her territory. This made Chuchchi "transient" - nomadic.

Chuchchi was exposed at this stage to the greater possibility of being killed. She was killed in 1987, at least 15 years and 6 months of age. A good age for a wild tiger. She had fought with a young male tiger and lost.

Chuchchi had seven male tigers in her life. There were three who were the fathers of five litters that were known about. Charles McDougal calls her a femme fatal. The males were fighting over her.

In various fights over her, on one occasion a young male tiger bit off the tail of another tiger. He left the area tailless. The tiger who removed the other's tail was later killed by another male tiger who was courting Chuchchi. In turn he was later (1982) replaced by a fourth tiger.

Chuchchi was fearless and courageous as are all tigers. She defended her cubs with passion. On one occasion she attacked an elephant that had by chance walked on an area where Chuchchi had given birth two days before.

Chuchchi met her observer, Charles McDougal unexpectedly on a ridge one day. They eyeballed each other from a distance of 50 feet. Mr McDougal took the hint and turned around and quietly walked away. It seems that she recognised Mr McDougal and was relaxed about the encounter.

I find the life of Chuchchi both beautiful and sad. But that is just me.


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