With fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild (and experts disputing their numbers), this short clip of four new additions to the population in India's Kanha National Park offers just a tiny glimmer of hope for a species on the edge.


The footage was captured by Surya Ramachandran, a wildlife naturalist at Singinawa Jungle Lodge in the state of Madhya Pradesh. According to Ramachndran, the cubs are only about two months old and their mother (that's the big one ruining all the cuteness by answering nature's urgent call) is a 12-year old tigress known as the "Mahavir" female. Somewhat of a celebrity in the area, this is the well-known cat's third litter.

The tiger mom has picked a good spot to raise her cubs. Kanha National Park is prime tiger real estate. The dense jungles were the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, and park staff are working diligently to ensure their local big cats are protected. 

"Tiger sightings have become quite rare these days in India," they explain. "The multitude of 'medicinal' or 'magical' properties has made the tiger trade very profitable. Even after bans introduced by the government warning not to gather even wood from the former hunting grounds, the poaching of tigers continues."

The Indian government launched Project Tiger in 1973, and in the years since, its protected reserves have increased from 9 to 47, spread across 18 tiger-range states.

"This amounts to around 2.08% of the geographical area of our country," says the team. "More wildlife conservation laws and awareness among people are still required to make Indian sanctuaries a safe haven for tigers."

The Mahavir female is known as a very calm cat, loved by researchers for her readiness to pose for their camera traps. Her curious nature has also earned her the nickname "showgirl of Mukki". A successful hunter and mother, she's given park officials much to celebrate with the arrival of her latest litter. Here's hoping the four cubs go on to set up territories of their own in the park.


Header image: Joachim S. Müller