Ask any Tiger lover who is regular to forests in India, who is Maya?
You will get quick answer .. Legendary tigress in making at Tadoba National Park. She is a celebrity tigress of Tadoba. She’s so popular that Animal Planet is currently making a documentary on her life.
All jungles have tigers who are very tourist friendly and act like show stoppers when they do catwalk on road. They care least about a number of gypsy jostling and hustling to see them. They are least bothered about photographer angles- head on or back lits or side lit. They live in their own world. To name a few celebrity tigresses in India we have Paro (Parwali) from Dhikala zone of Corbett, Mataram from Pench, Arrowhead and Krishna from Ranthambore, Solo Dotty Spotty from Bandhavgarh so on and so forth.
Tadoba already has legendary tigress. Her name is Madhuri. Madhuri once ruled Moharli range, is now been pushed in the buffer by her own daughter Sonam. Sonam now controls Moharli range. Sonam was the tiger in focus when Animal Planet broadcasted a special episode called “Telia Sisters of Tadoba”
Like Sonam, Maya is the ruler of Tadoba range. The prime meadows of Pandarpauni, hill locks of Panchdhara, shores of tadoba lake and hilltop are controlled by her. I chose to write about her because of her unique instincts. The instinct to survive, an instinct to mate and protect cubs.
Born to Nira, Maya was born sometime during 2011. Destiny had strange plans for her. Approximately a year later, Nira died because of snake bite, leaving entire litter orphaned including Maya. Maya survived on her own. She had the instinct to survive. Most tigers would die without a mother’s protection. She did not just survive but also gained her mother’s territory for herself. This was her first phase.
The second phase is even more interesting. As she became sexually reproductive she mated with Gabbar and gave birth to her first litter. Fate had other plans for her. She couldn’t protect her first litter. All three cubs died. Supposedly she wasn’t seen in tourism area for sometime after this event. She seemed to have gone in introspection, only to come back stronger and have second litter with Gabbar in early 2015. Gabbar was then the dominant male of Tadoba range.
While Maya was raising her second litter, Gabbar was already pushed to the edge of his territory. He was having tough time defending Tadoba turf from challengers like Matkasur and Navegaon male. Presence of non-fathering male is fatal for cubs. Male tigers will kill cub of other males to ensure female mates with them and help spread their genes.
In 2016, Matkasur trailed Maya to mate with her and was hell-bent on killing her cubs. Maternal instinct pushed her to fiercely defend the cubs. Matka backed out. A few days later she was enticing Matkasur to follow her. This was to take him away from her second litter. She did fake mating with Matkasur. Second litter survived well and became independent.
Maya is ruling the Taru land and Matkasur is the dominant male. Currently, she is raising third litter fathered by Matkasur. This litter has two cubs (one male one female). They too are on verge of becoming independent. She has defended the cubs well against her stepson Chotta Matka who has charged Maya’s cub several times in the closing season. She has successfully protected them every time. Come next season (Startinng Oct 2019) we might see Maya act into her maternal urges and mate with Matka and deliver her fourth litter. Who knows if it will be Matkasur or some other male. Only time will unfold the story.
As her name suggests, she is sureal. She has enchanted tourists and male tigers alike. Though she has not littered as many cubs as Madhuri but she has her own unique story of grit and survival. She knows how to enchant everyone around her. Maya is true survivor and protector – True enchantress..True messenger of wild spirits!