A mother’s love

Can ti­gress Raj Bhera pro­tect her cubs from dan­ger?

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Over the past cen­tury, global tiger num­bers have de­clined by a stag­ger­ing 95 per cent. So, for ti­gress Raj Bhera, to raise four cubs in

In­dia’s Band­hav­garh

Tiger Re­serve is an enor­mous un­der­tak­ing.

Only 50 per cent of tiger cubs sur­vive un­til adult­hood and her four young­sters face con­stant threats from other tigers, a lack of prey and, most dan­ger­ous of all, hav­ing hu­mans as neigh­bours.

‘Raj Bhera’s problems come not just from the nat­u­ral world but from hav­ing to rear her cubs in close quar­ters to us,’ says Sir David At­ten­bor­ough, who nar­rates this last episode of BBC1’s Dy­nas­ties se­ries.

‘Her cubs are vul­ner­a­ble and will re­main so for the next two years. It will take all her strength and skill as a mother if she is go­ing to raise them to adult­hood.’

Des­per­ate

With the area suf­fer­ing a se­vere drought, Raj Bhera strug­gles to feed her cubs and fend off at­tacks from other tigers.

‘She has to strike an al­most im­pos­si­ble bal­ance be­tween hunt­ing, scent­ing her ter­ri­tory and nurs­ing her cubs,’ ex­plains Sir David.

Des­per­ate, Raj

Bhera strays out of the re­serve and into a nearby vil­lage, but with vil­lagers aware of the dam­age a tiger can do, this has been the death knell for so many tigers be­fore her.

Can Raj Bhera make it back to her cubs to en­sure her dy­nasty lives on?

‘All the an­i­mals we fea­ture in this se­ries face an un­cer­tain fu­ture but tigers in par­tic­u­lar,’ says Sir David. ‘For them, each year is go­ing to be harder than the last be­cause of the en­croach­ment of hu­man­ity.’

Vul­ner­a­ble… Raj Bhera(right) faces an up­hill bat­tle to raise her cubs

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