As a series of short and hurried alarm calls rang through the air, the chaotically beautiful forests of Ranthambore suddenly fell silent- a Chital (Axis axis) somewhere nearby had noticed someone, I hadn't.

A Langur perched on a tree above me, who was until now an enthusiastic participant of the early morning ruckus, immediately dropped his antics and joined the Chital in raising the alarm, with short bursts of deep, raspy grunts.

And, as the nature around me hastily brought itself to order, there she stepped out from the dense thicket of dry grass…

© Nishant Andrews/WWF-India

Sharp and fearless gait, matched by the pin drop silence of the surroundings spoke of the dominance she possesed over one of the largest zones of Ranthambore forest. And, as she stepped out of the dry yellow foliage, a slight rustle of grass behind her, revealed the two new additions to the long-stretched lineage of Machali.

© Nishant Andrews/WWF India

A skittish little male, wary of the swarm of humans looming over him, was busy scurrying around and under her mother seeking security and confidence, while an enthused female, pranced right in front of her mother, walking two steps ahead of her as if leading the way.

The raw, belligerent Arrowhead (T-84) known for ousting her mother (T-19, also known as Jhalra Female) from the territory, was not the same that had walked out in front of me- cause here lay a calm and graceful tigress licking her cubs clean, a patient audience to their antics, exploring the new ways to the newly found motherhood herself.

© Nishant Andrews/WWF-India

Meanwhile, the 4 month male cub looked beyond my frame, determined to follow his mother on a long journey- one that may lead him to become one of the massive contenders to the coveted lake area of  Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR), one that also happens to be the legacy owned by his great grand mother, Machhli and currently his mother Arrowhead. What more, he has an equally enthused sister following closely in the footsteps.

© Nishant Andrews/WWF-India

Eventually, as she got up, following her cubs into the distance, she walked upto a nearby Dhaak tree (Butea monosperma) and marked her territory- an act that implies importance now, more than ever!

© Nishant andrews/WWF India

© Nishant Andrews/WWF-India

But for now, the forts and forests of Ranthambore stand a patient witness (pretty much like me and you), to this strong, sobering and gradually unfolding relationship.

© Nishant Andrews/WWF-India

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