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Legendary Tiger pair: Sita & Charger

bandhavgarh white tigers India Matriarch of Bandhavgarh : Sita (Disappeared in 1996)
Sita tigress was most photographed tigress in the world. She was the matriarch of Bandhavgarh. She had a life span of 17 years which is considered as longer the average age of tigers. In his lifespan she manage to raise 6 litters. She had two litters from Banka, the dominant male before Charger.Her third litter was from her mating with Charger in which she delivered two male cubs. In between them, one by larger in size and known by the name of Bara Bachha and second one had slight limp in his hind leg and known by the name of Langur.Bara Bachha made his territory around Ghora Demon and Langru chose to stay with Charger & Sita. Here noticeable thing is that, Charger accepted his 4 year old lame son, denying the logic that dominant males drive away their own grownup male cubs.

In March month of 1994, Sita delivered her ill-fated fourth litter in which one cub was blind since birth and died after some time. Sita was so much distressed and disturbed by his death that for few days she wandered everywhere in search of her cub by calling her. During that period park authorities closed her area for tourists. Her another female cub later known by the name of Mohini as she was very good looking. Charger had habit of snatching the kills made by Sita but she never mind and always pleased to see Charger. In September 1996, Sita produced her fifth litter comprising one male and two females. In order to feed them properly, Sita often started trespassing in to other’s territory. She made kills in other’s domain and drag them into her territory. 

In the year 1996, Sita was 15 years old which is considered as old-age of tigers, bud she seems absolutely fit. Upto this age, she has produced 6 litters and seems fit to deliver 7th litter also. Parks closed down in month of July for next 3 months. When month of October arrived in year 1996 and parks was ready for next safari season, tiger tracking geared up. During tracking nobody could trace Sita and a peculiar silence or depression was spread in atmosphere. No trace of beloved tigress Sita ignited huge controversies in media and pressure was mounted in Forest department to investigate the missing of Sita. Strange rumors began to spread about her dis-appearance like she was shot three times in Barua Nala and died behind the rest house in terrible agony. Some blamed it a handiwork of poachers spread in local villages. Local people and Forest Department was shocked with the disappearance of Sita.

After few months, police caught some poachers and recovered a tiger skin and bones from them. The enthusiastic officer and other policemen claimed that it was skin of Sita and called up many experts from Tala to verify the fact. They hung the skin in the verandah of Manpur Police Station for viewing and thousands of people from surrounding villages turned up to see it. Believing it to be Sita’s skin, they abused poachers and poured praises on policemen. But still suspicion remains prevailing as by having a look on a shrank and decayed skin and a pile of broken bones, it was impossible to trace the identity of died tiger. General perception of Sita’s death was that she has been poached. It is often said by guides and experts that it is very hard to trace the body of any cat family member died due to natural death.

Charger Point Bandhavgarh About Legendary Tiger: Charger (Died in 2000)
Before Charger, Banka was the dominant male of Charkadhara in Tala range of Bandhavgarh National Park. Banka is a hindi language word which means handsome and is use to praise the look of any male character. In a particular dawn, silence of Tala range broken with the deep throated calling of “aaungh- aaungh” . It was Banka prowl along the Aama Nala road. Suddenly, a series of resounding roars heard from up the hill jolted the jungle. Banka stopped dead in his tracks and immediately looked up. Soon he heard fast approaching footsteps, heading towards him, churning the dry leaves scattered on the ground, combined with short hideous growls. The tiger accepted the challenge and gave vent to a full throated roar, which only quickened the movements of the oncoming stranger.

Vicious looking male stranger tiger in his prime with mane like long hair fringing his face broke to cover of bamboo and fell over Banka like a thunder storm. Banka rolled over the ground with the impact of attack and lay under the stranger, who frantically tried to bite through his head and neck. Banka roared in defiance and raked the body of his rival with his fully stretched paws. Roaring sound of fighting tigers was echoing in the forest. Soon the ferocity, youth and indescribable anger of the young tiger took better of Banka, who gave up, disengaged himself from deadly grip of his rival, bleeding profusely, left the battlefield and tottered away from the onslaught.

Next day, with the sunrise, vicious tiger stepped out of jungle and lay down beside the forest road, licking his bleeding gashes and still growling at intervals. With the advancement of day, safari jeeps began arriving the forest. A ford jeep carrying party of jungle-trackers appeared around the corner where vicious male was laying. They had unknowingly come near to the new tiger following overnight pugmarks of Banka. The furious tiger raised his head and intently rushed in the direction from where the sound of the jeep was heard. He swiftly prepared himself for a charge as the sound approached nearer.

It was Rajan, sitting behind the jeep, who noticed the approaching tiger, first. Massive head, wide eyes, massive physique and aggressive posture made him realize that it was not Banka. In an excitement of tracking first tiger since morning, they drove towards him. As the jeep stopped near the tiger, he jumped up, rushed towards the jeep roaring menacingly, and almost collided with the vehicle. He growled and scratch the earth with his claws in anger. His saliva fell all over on the cloths of he occupants of the jeep, who shouted in unison with fear. Fortunately tiger wheeled back abruptly and went off into the forest. Jeep went back to Tala village and rumor was spread that Banka gone mad, Jeeps riders still couldn’t believe that Banka’s territory was penetrated by a intruder despite of getting news of seeing Banka type tiger under bush near a village, away from its territory.

Then Kuttapan, the head Mahout (person who drives elephant) decided to solve the mystery of Banka’s becoming mad. Riding over his huge tusker Gautam, he entered the high grass behind Gopalpur pond looking for Banka. Within a moment, he heard a distinct loud growl from his right, and next moment a thundering striped fury shot out from the grass and charged at elephant Gautam. Kuttapan somehow managed the elephant and rushed out of that grassland, perspiring profusely and declared that a very dangerous and short-tempered tiger had arrived in the forest. That was the most authentic confirmation about the advent of Charger who is not just a tiger but with his mate Sita, they become celebrity all over the world for almost a decade. Charger ruled Chakradhara and adjoining territories from beginning of year 1991 to 1999.

Charger earned his name through his unusually aggressive disposition towards tourist safari jeeps and elephants. He terrorized many visitors, jeep drivers, mahaouts on countless times. Sita had first two litters from Banka and third one from Charger in which one of the cub had a slight limp in his hind leg and known by the name of Langru. He stay with Charger & Sita and they accepted him even at the age of 4 when such grownup male cubs were drived away by dominant males. Charger and Sita were very compassionate for each other. Charger often share the kills of Sita and in return defends his territory form outsider males. At the age of 16 in year 1996, Charger lost his longtime companion Sita and his real ordeal began after it. Sita’s departure lead to a tragic turning point in life of Charger. He was hungry most of the time and survived through scavenging. He wandered in search of dead animals. Old age made Charger to restrict his movement as new generation of Tigers: B1, B2 & B3 were claiming their dominance in the area. Restricted movement leads to his increased sighting in a particular region of Barua Nala. Charger could not restrict himself long in a limited territory and ventured into Rajbehra and had a conflict with B1 and both face injuries.

In June 2000, Charger was engaged in a conflict with strong B2 tiger. In this decisive battle with B2 Tiger, in which B2 wrote the last deciding page of Charger’s grand saga. A week later, Charger was found half dead, lying in a ditch close to Mardari village. To avoid any controversies and danger to villagers, the forest department drove the Charger into a cage and put him inside a chain-link enclosure at Chirhadhar. A veterinary doctor attended his wounds and Charger seemed to improve in health. Since then Charger remained in enclosure. Charger was often seen walking along the fence as he wished to roam independently in to the area once ruled by him. He felt loneliness and uncomfortable in enclosure as he spent most of the time of his life in a royal style by ruling the jungle where he was now reduced to a enclosure. It was ungrateful day of 29th September, 2000, when Charger passed away leaving his name in history. A memorial was made in a place where his body was disposed off and was known by the name of ‘Charger Point’. We can visit Charger’s Point during safari in Magadhi zone (Gate - 2). Charger lived comparatively long life and was exceptional dominant male in Bandhavgarh National Park.

We all will remain indebted to the contribution made by Sita & Charger in Bandhavgarh Tigers Population.

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