Dinner was of no interests to Madonna, which would normally be a sign that her delivery was close and could be tomorrow. So 24 hour monitoring started.
Aug 18, 2008 Madonna Gave Birth???
Madonna's pacing and whining increased, much like her pre-birth condictions last time, but unlike Cathay's second time birth-giving. I am worried as I observe her now, fearing that she might not have learned from her first time birthing experience. My heart goes out to her. I am glad the clouds seems to be clearing up a bit due to the wind and it becomes warmer when the sun shines through. Madonna needs all the help from the weather to give her time to suckle the cubs. But if the weather is cold, she needs to suckle the cubs iummediately or the cubs could die.
I had Cathay shut inside the breeding center, as two tigeresses can't tolerate one another, especially during birth. Madonna has the tendency to want to be close to Cathay, which makes it even worse - if she could see Cathay, she might want to get close to Cathay, thus abandoning her own cubs. However, despite the tricks we used, Cathay refused to go into the inner quarters (where she would be completely out of sight of Madonna) of the breeding center, for fear of that dreaful gate which would shut her inside. We gave up in the end - at least it is better that she is not walking about distracting Madonna.
Now for the patient waiting...
At 10.30, she seemed to be trying to make a "poo", which should be the first sign of contraction-birth giving. I saw something tried to get out of her but did not come out. Immediately after this contraction, Madona dashed off into the drainage full of grass, trees and bushes that I could no longer see her. I radioed Vivienne to join me. Madonna was nowhere to be seen through either my binoculars or the monoscope. She might know to lie down giving birth this time? Cathay did so the second time. I prayed for Madonna.
Vivienne arrived but we still could not see her from anywhere. I also did not want to disturb her by checking as it would mean driving into her camp in a vehicle. We will just have to wait.
Madonna kept us in the dark. It is now 4pm and we have not seen or heard any sound from her or the baby tigers that might have been born. Were I to judge it according to her first time, she should be whining and pacing nervously if she had not given birth. But now 5 hours have passed without her showing up. How I wish this means that she has learned the trade of giving birth and has been quietly suckling her babies! I am anxious..
My last resort would be to wait till feeding time and see if she comes out to eat. If she does, we could possibly walk into her camp and have a peep in the grass and see what is there!
Now it is feeding time but she did not show up. She would be pretty hungry by now since she did not eat her food last night. There is no way I wanted to disturb her by driving into her camp. I am now convinced she has given birth since 7 hours have passed. I believe she is doing her job as a good mother, as I heard no baby cries, except a couple of birds crying which I briefly mistook as baby tiger cries. Although I am not completely sure, by all signs she is suckling her cubs, unless of course they are dead.
Our team has to do the 24 hour monitoring again just in case. If we hear any cries, she must not be suckling, or running out of milk. At 8pm, I still did not hear any cries. The full moon is coming out so fingers crossed the weather is not too cold tonight!
Aug 19, 2008 Madonna Appeared
At 9.10 this morning, she was out briefly to drink water and then disappeared into the trees again. I am pretty certain by now she had given birth. I am so anxious on the one hand, wanting to know how many babies, and worry about disturbing her on the other hand. We left her alone. At 4.10 she came out, having such a relaxed and confident demeanour about her. It was as if to say: "I am now a proud mother!" She rolled on the ground bearing her belly, as if to give us opportunity to check her nipples, which did look a bit red-suckled! Well at least two of the nipples!
When she went back, we traced her route and saw her going into another bush. We saw through the binoculars that she was there and I seemed to have even heard a baby tiger cry! She must have moved her cub/s from the ditch to this dense bush while we were away....
I must bear this mystery of how many babies until I can find out safely... For now, I am content that she has become a mother and given birth in the wild, in the true sense of the word!