Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Madonna Seen Licking Baby Tiger!

During night monitoring, Johnny saw through the dense bush that Madonna was licking one baby. This morning Vivenne heard one cry. We saw Madonna coming out to stroll more often and was out for about an hour. I was worried. Cathay never spent this much time out during the first few days and always stayed close to her babies. Cathay saw Madonna and immediately became hostile, looking at Madonna with a menacing and threatening look. I am sure she would have bitten Madonna were it not for the fence. Cathay was even angry at her cubs for being friendly to Madonna, swapping one at one stage and lay on top of another to prevent the cub getting close to Madonna, when Cathay saw Madonna approaching. Cathay also kicked the second cub at the same time.
Such was the temper of Cathay - a true protective tigress, but also a jealous one!
Madonna eventually she went back to her camp but only paced along the fence, instead of going back to her cub. Fortunately, a lot of crying came out of the trees and we saw her dashing back to the dense bush... I was relieved, for the time being.. I must say I am so proud of Madonna - she proved me wrong! I had thought that she would not rear her cubs this time and had gone out on a limb to prepare for that eventuality - sending staff to train, calling handrearing experts to standby just in case... But here you go! She is rearing her own cub/s! I am so grateful to her as well!
During Madonna's afternoon stroll, Cathay became more vicious with her cubs - biting, clawing and crushing one or another under,and the cubs cried and whined under her crushing weight that I was fearful she might hurt her cubs so I scolded her: "Cathay, don't be nasty!". She seemed to comprehend and looked at me with a stealing look, perhaps feeling guilty. However, she hated that the cubs chuffed at Madonna. She stared at Madonna with malice...
Just when Vivienne and I were about to leave the camps about 6.10pm, loud baby cries came out of Madonna's camp. I wondered what was happening? Where was Madonna? Was she not feeding the cub? Was she disturbed by Cathay's malicious attitude? I thought of shutting Cathay in the breeding center so Madonna could not see her but being so well fed Cathay did not even come close to the breeding center and her attention was focused entirely on Madonna too.
I was really worried, the baby cries contuinued even louder as time went on. I could vaguely distinguish two voices so believed there were two cubs. I rushed back to Villa TigerLi and called Eddie. How long should we allow the baby to cry before we intervene? Eddie said the cubs would not make it through the night without mother suckling. Not much else Eddie could offer at the moment except to make a report after my 8 o'clock monitor.
At 8pm, I went back to the camps, afraid of making any noise or using any lights which might disturb her. The moon had not come out so I literally walked in the dark on tiptoe, occasionally using my cellphone light to re-orient me in case I ran into the electric fences, or hit myself against the breeding center wall.
I was relieved that all is so quiet, with just the sound of frogs and crickets. Even birds have gone to sleep. No sound of baby tiger cries.
I believe that when darkness fell, before the moon comes out, even tigers don't see that well, which had calmed Madonna down.
I stood under the milky way and it feels so close as if I can just reach out and grab one of those beautiful shining stars. The sound of the crickets soothing in this wilderness.
I left as quietly as I came. Tomorrow, we must try to shut Cathay inside when Madonna comes out taking fresh air!

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