The Tiger

Born Free

Print edition : September 16, 2016

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan: Playing “peekaboo” with the photographer. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Machali, Ranthambore's oldest tiger, with her cubs. She died on August 18 at the age of 19. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Ranthambore: Machali (the marking on her face resembles a fish) lived to be almost 20 (1997-2016) and ruled as the "Queen of Ranthambore" for a decade until one of her own cubs, Satra, took over her territory. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

A young adult at Ranthambore making it known that it is not too pleased about the photographer's approach. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

After a satisfying meal, relaxing and giving itself a back rub, at Ranthambore. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh: This tiger is getting across to surprise the deer grazing in the field. Besides being good swimmers, tigers are very swift and stealthy. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

For a surprise attack, hiding below ground level and deciding which deer to target. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Stalking its prey before launching an attack, at Bandhavgarh. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Bandhavgarh: When I was photographing this young male, I tried to change the lens in my camera, but he suddenly leaped across and before I could track him he had made his kill and was climbing the stone wall. Tigers have strong neck muscles and can lift a big sambar deer or even the bigger nilgai effortlessly. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Ranthambore: At one of the several ruins which give the inhabitants of this 392 sq km national park a unique sense of space. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

After a good swim, shaking off the water, at Bandhavgarh. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Ranthambore: The mother was away all night from the cubs to make a kill. In the morning, she came by where the cubs were to take them to the kill. The cubs were starving as well. When the mother was relaxing after a dip in the water, the cubs came to her one by one as they usually do for a ritual rubbing of faces. Here, the cub has got a whiff of the kill from the mother’s breath and is trying to hurry her to take them to the kill. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

A young adult at Bandhavgarh. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

A full grown cub grooms itself after a meal, at Ranthambore. The flies are around the face because of the blood. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

In the morning sun, relaxing with a drink in the "pool" at Ranthambore. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Tigers mating, at Ranthambore. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Bandhavgarh: In summer, tigers sometimes stay in caves since it is cool inside during the day. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

A cub watching a bird atop a tree, at Ranthambore. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Bandhavgarh. The cub was on top of a hilly area. My guide, Pappu, spotted the lizard approaching the cub fearlessly. I used an extender to my 600mm focal length lens to make it 840mm and barely got an image before the lizard slipped and fell to the ground. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

Siblings spar playfully in Ranthambore, but sometimes the game can get rough. Photo: JOHN ISAAC

John Isaac. Photo: Jeannette

But destruction of habitat and poaching continue to be the scourge of tiger populations in India. Text & photographs
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