Charger Tiger

Location: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Charger Tiger

Description

Introduction

Charger is a very well known name in Bandhavgarh. While visiting Bandhavgarh national park, we can find this name in mouth of safari guides and senior lodge employees. He was one of the most popular dominant tiger of Bandhavgarh tiger reserve who undisputedly ruled over this jungle for a long time and made great contribution in tiger family of this forest. Before Charger, Banka was the dominant male of Charkadhara in Tala zone of Bandhavgarh. Tala safari zone remains home of dominant tigers as here they find healthy prey-base, good number of waterholes and natural shelters, caves etc. Banka is a hindi language word which simply means handsome. These type of words are often use to praise the dashing personality 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. This was the indication that a territorial conflict is going on between two male tigers and it could be decisive. While guarding his territory, Banka stopped dead in his tracks and immediately looked up. Soon he heard fast approaching footsteps, heading towards him, tiger call is going on in jungle, 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.

Banka vs Charger

Vicious looking male stranger tiger in his prime with mane like long hair fringing his face broke to cover of bamboo and charged over Banka tiger, like a thunder storm. Such kind of conflicts are very common among male tigers. 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. When two tigers are engaged in conflict, their roaring sound echoed throughout the jungle and not one can try to interven in between them. Conflict between Charger & Banka was going on in full pace and nobody intervened in between them. 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. This conflict was declaration of the fact that a new male tiger is going to take charge of territory of Banka and it was the time of retirement for Banka tiger.

Beginning of Charger Era

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 as if passing declaration of his victory and beginning of new era. With the advancement of day, safari jeeps began arriving the forest to know more about the conflict and check the current status. A ford jeep carrying party of jungle-trackers appeared around the corner where vicious male was laying. As nothing was visible to trackers so they had unknowingly came close to the new tiger following overnight pugmarks of Banka. New male tiger was in resting mood thus felt disturbed withthe sound of vehicle and 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 annoying 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 close to the tiger, he jumped up, rushed towards the jeep roaring menacingly, and almost collided with the vehicle. He scratch the earth with his claws in anger and keep on growling, expressing his displeasure due to presence of safari vehicle, close to him. 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 tiger gone mad. Jeeps riders still couldn’t believe that Banka’s territory was penetrated by a intruder male tiger, 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 controls & 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. Surprised from his charge, Kuttapan somehow managed the elephant and rushed out of that grassland. In his findings, he declared the fact that a very dangerous and short-tempered tiger had arrived in the forest who took over the territory of Banka tiger and visitors should maintain safe distance from this tiger. 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. Due to his short tempered behavior & prospensity of charging, he was awarded with the name of "Charger". He ruled over Chakradhara (in Tala zone)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.

Fall of Charger's Era

Disappearence of Sita tigress, who was long time companion of Charger, has made changes in his life. In this period of life, Charges became more dependent on Sita tigress for kills & arranging food for him. Thus her disappearence lead to fall in his diet causing symptoms of ageing tiger to appear prominently. In June 2000, Charger was engaged in a conflict with strong B2 tiger who was suppose to be his son. In this decisive conflict with B2 Tiger, Charger received many injuries and he accepted his defeat. It was the fall of an era where no other male tiger was matching the supremacy of Charger and he ruled over the jungle like an usdisputed king. Such kind of defeat is a known fact of any great tiger as it is a part of his destiny. When one dominant tiger becomes weak, he was replaced by other male tiger and thus the rule of fittest tiger continues in jungle. After this battle, Charger was tracked, laying in a ditch, close to Mardari village. Being he was in injured status and close to human society, forest department rushed elephants to push him inside dense forest area. Considering his old age and inability to kill prey, Forest department decided to put him in an enclosure where he will recover and sepnd rest of his remaining life.  It was month of September 2000 when Charger passed away, leaving his life story to be heard by others and his descendents to rule of the Bandhavgarh forest. As a mark of respect towards this great tiger, Forest Department made a memorial called Charger's Point in Magadhi zone of Bandhavgarh. He lived comparatively longer life due to proper feeding at enclosure.

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