Friday, 2 September 2011

Not Everyone Likes Huwaa

The little baby tigers showed their little faces sparingly during the last few days when the Chinese reporters came to visit, while Cathay continued to patrol around her camp, warning all the nosy boys off her and her babies butt. After all the strangers had left, mom chuffed her babies out of the donga to have a good straddle around. The little boys wobbled onto a patch of dry grass in succession and it was clear they were starting to play, though they were still so unsteady. They waved their fat little arms as if pounding the other one and climbed on top of one another. Their achievement today was climbing a thick branch of a big tree about half meter off the ground. The first one managed pretty quickly but the second cub pondered over it for quite some time before making the attempt. He succeeded only half way, getting off the branch the way he climbed up, while the first cub disappeared from the other side.

Seeing that Madonna’s hind legs had been loosing condition and needed some exercise, I decided to also let Madonna to go into the hunting camp with TigerWoods and Huwaa on Sept 27th, if her test meeting with Huwaa was not too dramatic. She may be pregnant, and if so she might not be able to have any hunting exercise for yet some more months to come if she gives birth mid-September. It would anyway be good to have two hunting teachers. Madonna didn’t show much emotion towards Huwaa when eventually all three were let into the mini camp just before going into the Tigers' Roars, so the gate was opened to let them move into it.

TigerWoods was the first to go in and having been absent for several years from it, he explored and sniffed. Huwaa followed him in, playing with his tail which annoyed the hell of him. However, all the male tigers had been very patient with her, allowing her rather energetic taps on their butts, however irritating that is, but running away sometimes. Huwaa was distracted by the humans watching her, letting step dad getting away steadily, disappearing into the trees. Afraid that she may have no one to follow in a huge new camp, I got all humans into vehicles, thus damping all of Huwaa’s hope of playing with them. Madonna uttered a little unpleasant sound after she entered the Tiger's Roar and when Huwaa tried also patting her butt. She didn’t make a huge fuss, allowing her trailing behind by a few meters, when the two also disappeared into the trees.

When we checked on Huwaa yesterday morning in her new home, she only came out when the predator whistle was sounded. She was not in a hurry thought she was very happy to see all the human visitors. Perhaps she was allowed to share some of the two blesbok kills TigerWoods and Madonna made over night? We couldn’t be sure but she didn’t seem to be hungry-just showed off her acrobatic skills. In the afternoon, she answered her rote call from across the little river, jumping and diving across the river and into the grasses. There was still no begging for food. It made me wonder if she was feeding off TW or Madonna’s kills?

This morning, I wanted to check if she was actually spending the past two nights on her own or with an adult tiger so we rote called with predator whistle. Only Madonna came, while TW was still nowhere to be seen. Madonna however was not that friendly to Huwaa, snarling at her. But no fight seemed to have broken. It was clear that Madonna was not Cathay and did not treat Huwaa with the same care and patience.

It was not until this afternoon when I realized how much grudges Madonna bore towards Huwaa. As usual, Huwaa answered my rote call and came to where I was standing by the gate. But from the corner of her eyes she saw Madonna in the distance by the little river and froze. When Madonna started making her way over towards us, Huwaa suddenly turned and run like a fugitive towards the opposite direction along the fence and up the hill, tail between her legs and checking her back to see if Madonna might be close. My calling after her was not enough to stop her. I realized there must have been something wrong and only managed to catch up with the little girl and slowly coached her back to the gate by assuring her that I was there to protect her, hoping to get her out of the Tigers' Roars. However, Madonna had arrived. She uttered a menacing snarl and charged towards Huwaa. Poor little Huwaa at least knew how to run and to avoid Madonna’s aggression. There were a few near misses as Huwaa tried to reach the gate which I was waiting to open for her, but which Madonna decided to guard against and chased Huwaa around. Only the approaching sound of Vivienne’s vehicle distracted Madonna a little so I was able to get Huwaa out of the Tigers' Roars camp and into the mini camp. She was grateful to be over the ordeal and rubbed her head gently against my leg and followed me through Catkins Camp into quarantine and then into the corner camp where Cathay was waiting for her.

Mom is mom. Huwaa needed the consolation. Unlike the snarls and hisses that Huwaa received from Madonna, she was showered with from mom before they were even let into the same camp with Cathay. Huwaa unleashed all her pent-up feelings onto her mother and jumped about Cathay energetically. Despite her hunger Cathay bore patiently Huwaa’s antics, allowing her to abuse her good self. Even when she was fed up with all the pounding on her butt and her face and wanted to talk Huwaa down, she was gentle -careful not to hurt her. The difference between Cathay and Madonna’s attitudes towards Huwaa couldn’t be more clear-tiger mothers recognize their own offsprings! There was no doubt that Madonna knew Huwas was Cathay’s baby and was nasty to her. Jealousy? I have no doubt.

Meanwhile, Huwaa’s hunting training has to wait for a few weeks, till Madonna and TW have finished hunting in the Tigers' Roars…

Aug 28th, 2011
TigerLi in Laohu Valley

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