My picture of a “tigress slips while crossing a stream with her cub in her mouth” won in the category Wildlife- Highly honoured award at the 2016 Smithsonian Asia photography awards
Nikon D3, 300mm F2.8 VR G, ISO 1600, 1/160th @ F8
The story is something like this.
We were on the evening safari trying to glimpse Noor (T-39) with her cubs at zone 3 , Ranthambhore. The tigress came to the stream with her two cubs. She sat in the stream for a bit and crossed over to the far side, with the cubs, distancing herself from the jeeps and putting the stream between the jeeps and her cubs.
Meanwhile all the jeeps were lined up on our side of the stream. While she was not looking, one of the cubs bolted across the stream back towards the jeeps and crossed across the jeep line to the other side. So the sequence Hill – jeeps – stream – cubs n tigress suddenly changes to Hill- cub 1 – jeeps – stream – tigress with cub 2 . The tigress was not too happy with the situation and called out to the cub across the jeeps. Cub wouldn’t listen 🙂 So she starts to cross back over to get the run away cub back.
Crossed the jeep line and meets with first runaway cub
Looking for the cub across the jeep line from where she had come
As she moves to wards the jeep line leaving the cub that was by her side, this cub now starts bawling on seeing his mum move away. She gets a little worked up and goes back to her cub, and walks with the cub back towards the jeep line to reunite with the run away cub 1. She successfully crosses the stream and reunites. Just then one of the cubs again scoots off to cross the stream to the far side. The first cub is still on the side across the jeeps. The mommy tigress then goes behind the run away cub who is crossing the stream and grabs it by his neck and turns around to bring it back towards the jeep line, cross it and re unit with the other cub.
Cub running way and mommy chasing
Grabbing the run away cub and turning around back towards the jeep line and towards her other cub across the jeeps
While she was crossing the stream with the cub in her mouth , her foot slips on the rock and thats when I clicked the picture. Actually there are two pictures , one where she just slips and one can see in her eyes “oh shit” and this one where she just finds firm purchase and has more of an “abbe yaar…” look. And then I have a third one where she is positively hopping mad. The first pic has subject motion blur since I was shooting relatively lower speeds. Got lucky with the second shot since the tigress was momentarily motionless.
She successfully bring the cub over to the jeep line , puts it down and then re unites with the cub on the hill. Then she marches both the cubs back to her den which was across the bend and not viewable from where we were.
And exciting evening at the a national park for sure 🙂