Bear Tiger confrontation – 10 pics that tell a story

9th April 2011. In the morning safari some jeeps saw a pair of tigers walking form zone 1 of the Ranthambhore national park towards the Kalapani anicut in Zone 6. In the evening I booked a jeep for zone 6 and we found the mating tigers (T24 male and T39 female – both young adults) in a rocky plateau across the Kalapani anicut.

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The plateau had a short grass cover and some low trees. The sun was behind the tigers and the back light was very strong. Most of the time the tigers were in the shade and were no good for photography. After about half an hour the tigress suddenly got up and started stalking towards the edge of the plateau.

A mother bear with two small cubs riding on her back was walking towards the mating pair of tigers and the tigress had gone to confront them. By the time the bear realized that there were tigers close by, the tigress had got very close to them. That’s when the mother became aware of the tiger’s presence.

The bear appeared to be in serious trouble and we expected the bear to bolt away but the bear had other plans. The bear cubs flattened themselves on the mother’s back while the mother charged at the approaching tigress.

I don’t think that the tigress expected the bear to charge and tried to get out of what was by now a messy situation for both of them. The bear blocked the tiger’s path and stood up on her hind legs to confront the tigress. By this time the tigress desperately wanted to get out of the confrontation and kept backing off. T 39 in a young tigress who probably did not have the experience to take on a desperate mother.

The bear started screaming loudly and got increasingly aggressive. Soon there was a loud slanging match between the two, which the bear won. The tigress beat a hasty retreat while the bear stood her ground.

By this time the male tiger who was observing the drama from a little distance decided to get involved. T 24 is about 4 years old and had just come into dominance. We were worried for the bear.

We had seriously underestimated the power of an angry mother. T 24, the young male star of southern Ranthambhore, could not even budge the bear. These two had another loud slanging match that went in the bear’s favour.

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T 24 soon realized the fury of an angry mother and started backing away from a now “one sided” fight and did not stop till he reached a safe distance.

All this happened in exactly two minutes and 10 seconds. When the clock started it seemed that the mother bear had got herself into a very dangerous spot. In ten seconds she had taken control and two minutes later she had forced two tigers to back off. The victor walked off leaving behind two sheepish cats.




  1. avijit says:

    keep on sharing sir ji!!!

  2. Sanjai says:

    Fantastic photos and thanks for sharing. Wish you many more rare opportunities in the future.

  3. Fantastic story! Loved the series.

  4. Joachim Grammer says:

    Dear Aditya,

    what an observation!! You again were at the right place at the right time! Phantastic documentation and pics showing the wonders of Ranthambhore. Thanks for posting and sharing that 2 minutes.


    what an experience!

  6. avijit says:

    gr888888888 naration along with gr8 pics(as always!!)

  7. Gopinath Kollur says:

    What a moment…and amazing capture !!!

  8. It’s a GREAT LEARNING FOR ME even after roaming in the Indian Jungles since early seventies.Till date I was of the view that a Himalayan Black Bear or a large Tusker could garner enough courage to challenge a Tiger Couple. A MOTHER SLOTH BEAR with two cubs to defend will show such daring agression was beyond my imagination.

  9. Anup Ranadive says:


    This is mind blowing stuff. I jumped in my chair couple of times just seeing your images. What a sight it must have been to watch and photograph. Thanks a ton for sharing the story and the images.


  10. Shalini says:

    Hi Aditya,

    Fabulous clicks. Beautifully gathered and narrated. I was in Ran-stam-bhor last montth – April 2,3,4,took 2 morning and 1 evening safari on routes 4 & 5.The last morning safari that we had was when we caught a glipmse of the big cat on Route 4. We also sighted a leopard in the Kachida valley, on the periphery of the park among its other occupants. This was my first visit to this dry deciduous forest and I swear I am in love with its tigers,its wildlife and the magnificient fort that stands inside the reserve. Will be there again soon. Until then its your blogs all the way to keep us updated :)..Cheers!!!

  11. tikulicious says:

    Excellent blog. I have been reading your write ups and it is sheer joy to see a person so passionate about wild life especially Tigers. It is indeed a blessing to be part of this world, few have this opportunity. Will be reading more. I hope people don’t just read and forget about these majestic animals but do their bit to save them from extinction. Best to you. Keep sharing. Do visit my blog too.

  12. samir burman says:

    hi aditya,
    amazing shots and amazing story. i am also regular at national parks esp at ranthambore. quality of snaps really great or i can say its an extraordinary stuff. i was in the same park from 18 to 23 of june, 2011 and had total 9 safaries, we found same tigress T-39 twice. i must say she is really beautiful trigress. anyway thanks a lot for sharing with us such a great shots and story.

    samir burman.

  13. R G SONI says:

    Perhaps such confrontation was not recorded earlier. A unique and complete thrilling action with a superb narration. Heartiest congratulations. Warm Regards. R G Soni

  14. Seeing a Sloth Bear is a challenge for all India wild life travellers – this encounter is far beyond all expectations! Marvelous! Cheers, Jan

  15. ken keenan says:

    I and my group had the pleasure of meeting Miss T-39, her brother and Mother in 3 separate encounters one day in February, 2010…Incredible….Terrific pictures…ken keenan

  16. heena singh says:

    this was awesome. and you narrated it so well with pics- could close my eyes n imagine it. u should be so proud to witness something that wildlife photographers cannot in their entire life. and thanks for sharing. my kids loved the whole thing-the babies n their mom was not hurt was the best part for them. n i guess for all of us. a fight without any bloodshed.congratulations for photographing that.

  17. Haseeb Badar says:

    This is absolutely fascinating !!! out an out story book stuff !!! loved it all the way :)

  18. kiran srivastava says:

    Hello Aditya,

    I saw some of these wonderful action photographs on INW site earlier and they are still viid in my mind. Fabulous! Hope to see you on your own turf one day. Cheers and keep it rolling!

  19. Ms Pintueli Gajjar says:

    Wow … Terrific! What an awesome experience – for the bear cubs, the young tigers and of course, you!

    1. She is and the cubs did hold on

  20. […] a Male tiger in Ranthambhore National Park (More on this incident can be read on his personal blog) – Aditya Singh, the Sanctuary Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 presented by Sanctuary Asia […]

  21. Lovely images and just look at the way luck favours you!

    1. I have been living here for 14 years. The longer I stay here the more lucky I get :)

  22. Paul B Jones says:

    Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. But I would say there is no luck involved – just experience, skill and planning (which people sometimes mistake for luck).

  23. Anshul says:

    superb……clicks wanna be a part of your team some day….

    1. Thanks. Unfortunately I dont really have a team :)