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Portrait of an Expectant Mother

Tronhard
Elite
Elite

This is one of the pair of Sumatran tigers resident at the zoo.  This breed is the second most threatened after the Siberian tiger, with barely 350 left in the wild.  They are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching for body parts for the Asia traditional medicines market, and adults are killed so the young can be captured and shipped off illegally to private collectors around the world.  Finally, villagers bordering the wildlife reserves trespass into them to gather wood and other materials, occasionally get in a confrontation with a tiger, and may be injured or killed.  As a result, villagers may kill multiple tigers in retaliation.   This is a similar in nature to conflicts between farmers and elephants in India.

With a dwindling population, and despite orphaned cubs sometimes being given to zoos, like many captive species, there is a growing danger of lack of genetic diversity in zoos, leading to a potential for eventual inbreeding of captive populations.   When once it was ok to just go and grab some animals in the wild, this is no longer possible .   The Auckland Zoo is part of the international mixed genes program and our two tigers are from different parts of the US.  They mated once already, but alas when the two cubs came to birth one was still born, so the mother immediately killed the other. 

While this might seem cruel, it is perfectly normal, as nature drives her to make herself available to mate again as quickly as possible - given that keeping the cub would delay that by about 2 years.  With a relatively high mortality rate in any case, depending on a single cub is not viable, and the female normally gives birth to between 2 and 4 cubs, thus reducing the risks.  It is not unsimilar in principle to birds that often have at least two eggs (an heir and a spare), and will allow the stronger of the offspring to dominate and eventually expel or kill the weaker ones.  Nature's tough...

So, here is the expectant mother, who is resting a lot in the shelter of her cave as she saves her energy for baby building.  We hope she will produce a healthy litter this time in the next couple of months - a normal gestation time is around 100 days.

Canon EOS R6, Sigma 60-600@600mm, f/6.3, 1/640sec, ISO-2000Canon EOS R6, Sigma 60-600@600mm, f/6.3, 1/640sec, ISO-2000

In a effort to keep a viable population there is an international breeding program, with tigers from different locations being mated in the hope of avoiding inbreeding.


cheers, TREVOR

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
4 REPLIES 4

Tintype_18
Authority
Authority

Thanks for the photo and your statements on the crisis of wildlife in the world. Many people don't realize in this modern world that certain wildlife can collide with humans. Tigers and elephants in India; elephants, lions, leopards and crocodiles in Africa. The two most dangerous to humans in Africa are the crocodile and hippo. The difference is the hippo won't swallow you but chew you to a pulp and spit you out.

BTW, as for expectant mothers, my wife looked like that in the last three months.

John
Canon EOS T7; EF-S 18-55mm IS; EF 28-135mm IS; EF 75-300mm; Sigma 150-600mm DG

I'd say it was us who are colliding with the wildlife - almost inevitably, they were here first!  I would suggest the most dangerous animal in Africa is homo sapiens - based on the sheer number of dead, maimed and violated.  People often forget we are just another animal, supposedly with a better brain and more intelligence...
Your wife sounds like a formidable woman! 😄


cheers, TREVOR

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

Tintype_18
Authority
Authority

I agree; more has been done by humans than any animal on earth. Take for what it's worth: a news item said that the carbon footprint on earth diminished due to the millions killed by Genghis Khan.

The wife is a person to deal with. Just don't get her mad. AMHIK. Cheers.

John
Canon EOS T7; EF-S 18-55mm IS; EF 28-135mm IS; EF 75-300mm; Sigma 150-600mm DG

Paul836
Enthusiast

Splendid, I agree with your appreciation

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