Tigers on the Rise (2024) Movie Script

[birds calling]
[narrator] Disneynature's Tiger
tells the story of a young tigress
raising her four cubs
in the jungles of India.
This film reveals what happens
when those cubs leave their mother's side
and head off
to find territories of their own.
In the forest reserve where they live,
tiger numbers have doubled
in the last 15 years.
And now, they're running out of space.
So young tigers must leave
the safety of these sanctuaries.
And enter a new world...
shared with people.
There are many challenges to face...
[truck honking]
But some tigers are learning to adapt.
Fortunately, there are people out there
trying to help them.
While making Disneynature's Tiger,
the crew teamed up with a group
of exceptionally dedicated individuals,
finding ways for people
and tigers to co-exist.
[Emotional music playing]
[birds calling in distance]
They're the world's most loved animal.
but elusive.
It's hard enough to see a tiger...
much less film one.
For Disneynature's Tiger,
the camera team spent over 1,500 days
in the jungles of India,
filming over five years.
Their patience has paid off,
capturing some of the rarest moments
of tiger life.
For some scenes, the team goes
to extraordinary lengths to get the shots.
While the tiger heads out for a drink,
the crew pops in to check
their remote cameras.
It's a tense moment...
but it's worth it.
It's rolling around like a kitten.
That's amazing.
[narrator] Some of the other animals
can get a little too friendly.
Excuse me.
Excuse me, Mr. Treepie.
[narrator] The hidden cameras
are only designed to be tiger-proof.
[elephant grunting]
[camera clanking]
This camera's life is trunk-ated.
Yeah, bit of tape and that would be fine.
[team chuckling]
[Uplifting music playing]
[narrator] Two of the many camera people
involved in the movie
are Indian filmmakers Pooja Rathod
and Kalyan Varma.
[Pooja speaking]
[narrator] Pooja and Kalyan have spent
many days filming one tigress
and have earned her trust.
[Pooja whispering]
[Mellow music playing]
[birds chirping]
[grumbles softly]
[Kalyan speaking]
[narrator] Over two years,
the crew watched the cubs growing up
before their eyes.
At first,
they're a bit unsteady on their paws.
[playful music playing]
[cub whining]
As the cubs grow,
they learn the ways of the jungle.
They discover
which animals they can hunt...
[bird cawing]
and which ones are not worth the effort.
This unique footage
paints the most intimate portrait
of tiger family life ever captured.
[uplifting music playing]
For Pooja and Kalyan, the toughest moment
is watching the cubs head off.
At 18 months,
it's time to leave their mother's side
and find a territory of their own.
[Pooja speaking]
[Slow gentle music playing]
[Dramatic music playing]
[narrator] The number of young tigers
searching for new territory is rising.
Thanks to increased protection,
there are now over 3,600 tigers
across 54 reserves,
but space in these is limited.
So a third of India's tigers
must live outside protected areas.
Here, they find less wild prey,
but plenty of easy meals.
[cowbell ringing]
And that's bad news for farmers.
But there are simple things
that can be done to help,
and there's someone who's willing to try.
[cheerful music playing]
Dr. Bilal Habib
from the Wildlife Institute of India
is the scientific consultant
for Disneynature's Tiger.
He's one of
the country's top tiger experts
and loves solving problems.
Bilal has come
to Maharashtra in central India,
the heart of Tiger country.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] Today,
Bilal is testing out his latest idea...
once he makes it through the traffic.
[car honking]
[cow mooing]
It's an unusual approach to help cut
the number of cows lost to tigers.
[background chatter]
Sometimes, you only find the way forward,
by looking behind.
[cow mooing]
[background chatter]
Bilal and his team are painting
eyes on cows' tail ends
while trying not to get kicked.
[Bilal speaking Hindi]
[painter in Hindi]
[cow mooing]
[painter in Hindi]
[narrator in English] It's hoped
the eyes will fool tigers
into thinking they're being watched.
Bilal and his crew have now painted
hundreds of rear-ends,
and it seems to be working.
The number of attacks
has fallen dramatically.
[narrator] Bilal now plans to roll out
this simple idea
across the whole of India.
[cow mooing]
For the last ten years,
Bilal has also been involved
with another project,
but on a very different scale.
[indistinct chattering]
He's come with Disney's cameraman Kalyan
and remote camera expert Suman Raju
to check on its progress.
It all started a decade ago
when Bilal was asked
to solve a major problem.
Young tigers looking for a new territory
struggle to find their way
between reserves,
which are often hundreds of miles apart.
They face many obstacles on their journey
[train honking]
But there's one barrier
that's toughest of all.
[trucks honking]
Built over a hundred years ago,
the NH44 is India's oldest highway,
spanning the length of the entire country.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] Some tigers travel
thousands of miles,
but when they meet the highway...
they have to turn back.
[somber music playing]
Bilal's solution was simple,
to lift the road up
to allow the tigers to travel underneath,
creating a wildlife corridor.
It cost two and a half billion dollars.
It's the world's biggest
wildlife underpass
with nine elevated sections.
And it's saving the lives
of countless tigers.
[uplifting music playing]
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] Kalyan and Suman
have been capturing
close-up shots of tigers
using the underpass.
[Suman] Wow.
[narrator] There are now
over 200 tiger crossings every year.
[narrator] Pooja has come to help Suman
capture footage of a very special tigress.
[Pooja and Suman speaking]
[narrator] What's unusual
about this tigress...
is that she lives in a city.
Bhopal in Central India.
Home to 2.5 million people.
Like any modern city,
by day, it's a noisy bustling metropolis.
But as most of the town's inhabitants
head home,
another resident is heading out.
In a patch of forest
that extends into the middle of the city,
a young tigress
is patrolling her territory.
[motorbike revving, honking]
In the seven years she's lived here,
she's figured out
how to live alongside people.
[narrator] The tigress
only travels at night
and returns to her cave
before the city wakes up.
Suman has been following
this tigress for two years.
His data is helping the forest department
to understand how she lives.
Suman was drawn here
by the idea of documenting
the lifestyle of an urban tiger.
You see, I'm just gonna walk.
Yeah, you sit there
so that we can take the photo.
- [Pooja] I'll walk down here.
- [Suman] Yeah.
[Suman speaking]
[narrator] A modern city
may not seem like "tiger habitat",
but Bhopal has everything a tiger needs.
It sits alongside
Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary,
where she can hunt and take cover.
There are man-made reservoirs,
so the tigress will never go thirsty.
And she sleeps in sandstone caves
in the hills above the city.
As long as she doesn't harm anyone,
her human neighbors are happy
for the tigress to share their home.
[horns honking]
[Pooja speaking]
[narrator] The city loves the tigress
and is taking major steps to protect her.
The forest department
employs 40 people to keep tabs on her.
Each evening, roads are closed
in her territory
to allow her safe passage.
A network of CCTV towers
tracks her movements.
[officer in Hindi]
[narrator in English]
In charge of operations
is Divisional Forest Officer Alok Pathak.
[Suman] I think
we'll try to place the trap here.
[narrator] Pooja and Suman
are now deploying
extra remote cameras across her territory
to see if the tigress has had cubs.
The whole city is hoping
to hear the patter of tiny paws.
[bird calling]
All across India, the tiger occupies
a special place in people's hearts.
[Pooja speaking]
[narrator] Tigers have lived with people
for thousands of years.
They're adored like royalty...
[upbeat festive music playing]
And celebrated with festivals.
It's this connection that allows
humans and tigers to live side by side.
[Pooja speaking]
[narrator] Tigers living around
the edges of reserves
soon learn to avoid humans.
[dog barking in distance]
[indistinct chattering]
By day, they rest out of sight.
[insects chirping]
[indistinct chattering]
If they hear someone coming,
they stay hidden.
[indistinct chattering in distance]
They only come out at dusk,
when the people have left.
[Pooja speaking]
[narrator] But tragic accidents can occur.
When villagers work late in the forest,
a young inexperienced tiger
may mistake them for prey animals.
[Kalyan speaking]
[narrator] In some parts of India,
the rise in tiger numbers
is causing a dramatic spike in attacks.
[Pooja speaking]
[Light music playing]
[narrator] While filming
on the edges of tiger reserves,
Pooja and Kalyan have witnessed
the efforts of the people
working to keep both villagers
and tigers safe.
[villager speaking Hindi]
[narrator] The Forest Department
Primary Response team
is the first to be called
when there's a problem tiger.
[speaking Hindi]
Forest Guard Shital Thakre
has been doing the job for six years.
Today, her team has been called
to a village
where someone has been killed.
[speaking Hindi]
[narrator in English] The primary
response team is sent in
to identify the problem tiger
so it can be captured
and taken into captivity.
With the tiger still nearby,
Shital's priority is
to keep the people safe.
[speaking Hindi]
[narrator in English] In this area,
on the outskirts of Tadoba National Park,
the number of tigers
has quadrupled in just ten years.
[chattering in Hindi]
[speaking Hindi]
[chattering in Hindi]
[narrator in English]
Tigers are most active at night.
[team howling]
Shital and her team
sweep the surrounding area,
hoping to push the tiger
away from the village.
[team howling]
It's a dangerous job.
- [explosive booms]
- [howling continues]
[team member in Hindi]
[narrator in English] They need to
identify which tiger they're dealing with.
Rakesh, the team biologist,
studies images caught on remote cameras.
[Rakesh] Um, six.
[narrator] Every tiger has
a unique set of stripes.
By comparing them,
he can see it's a young male called P2.
-[Rakesh speaks Hindi]
- [team yelling]
[team chattering]
[narrator in English] The presence
of the team overnight
helps the villagers feel safer.
The rising number of tigers
is raising fears.
[Shital speaks Hindi]
[team chattering]
[narrator in English] Shital lives alone,
a long way from home.
At times like this,
she misses her family more than ever.
[tool clanking]
[speaking Hindi]
[laughter on phone]
[Shital's relative 1 on phone]
[Shital's relative 2 on phone]
- [in English] Bye-bye.
- [Shital] Bye-bye.
[narrator] Shital's family
wants her to return to the village,
but she feels a strong calling
for this work.
[Shital speaks Hindi]
[narrator in English] Shital is proud
to be one of the few women doing her job.
[Shital speaks Hindi]
[narrator] Back at the village,
Shital and her team are under pressure
to remove the problem tiger.
[chatter in Hindi]
And when a tiger needs capturing,
the person to call is wildlife vet
Dr. Ravi Khobrogade.
- [animal grunting]
- When he's not catching tigers,
Ravi is caring for orphaned animals
at his treatment center,
like this baby sloth bear.
[Ravi speaking]
[narrator] When the call comes through,
Ravi has to mobilize
his rapid rescue team.
They've been asked to tranquilize
the problem tiger P2
and take him away from the village.
P2 will be their 50th tiger capture
if they can find him.
[Ravi speaking]
[Dramatic music playing]
[narrator] Ravi and his team are searching
for a single tiger, known as P2.
He's a moving needle in a giant haystack.
The plan is to capture P2
and take him into captivity,
but it's not going to be easy.
Two days later, Ravi hears that
P2 has killed a cow on the edge of a farm.
They plan to stake out the location
hoping that P2 returns to feed.
[indistinct chattering]
Ravi's assistant, Ajay, will be using
a dart gun to tranquilize the tiger.
[Ravi] Okay. Done.
[indistinct chattering]
[narrator] Ravi and Ajay
settle in for the night.
[insects chirping]
[Ravi speaking]
[insects chirping]
[narrator] It was a long wait...
with nothing to show for it.
[narrator] A week later,
the team catch a break.
There's been a sighting of P2
and they rush to the spot.
[Ravi in Hindi]
[narrator in English] At last,
they get their first glimpse of P2.
They need to dart his back end,
so they must wait
until he's facing the right way.
[suspenseful music playing]
[soft grunting]
[Ravi in Hindi]
[Ajay in Hindi]
[Ravi in English]
[Ravi in Hindi]
[narrator in English]
P2 slips back into the forest.
[Ravi speaking]
[narrator] They've missed their chance.
But overnight, a remote camera
has captured a fresh image.
The team picks up the trail.
P2 is only 20 yards away.
They just need him to turn around.
[P2 grumbles softly]
[Suspenseful music playing]
Weighing around 500 pounds,
it takes the whole crew
to carry P2 to the transport cage.
[Ravi speaking Hindi]
[Ravi's team speaking Hindi]
It's a huge relief for Ravi's team.
[indistinct chatter]
And a welcome sight for the villagers.
[horn honking]
[narrator] The community comes out
to see the tiger off.
[horn honking]
On the three-hour journey
to the treatment center,
Ravi feels conflicted.
[horn honking]
[Ravi's teammate speaking Hindi]
[narrator] The treatment center
is just a temporary holding place for P2.
Ravi will now try to find him
a permanent home at a zoo.
[P2 grumbles softly]
P2 will never return to the wild,
but relocating him will help local people
remain tolerant of tigers.
[animals calling]
Not far away, on the eastern edge
of Tadoba National Park,
some other tigers
are also being moved to a new home,
but for a very different reason.
Bilal is planning to do
some tiger match-making.
He's hoping to gather
five females from here
and introduce them to potential mates.
A hundred and twenty miles north,
in Nagzira National Park,
tiger numbers are on the rise
but they're mostly males.
Male tigers find it easier than females
to reach here from faraway forests.
But without females,
the population is doomed.
And there's another benefit
to Bilal's plan.
He's taking the tigresses away
from an area where there's lots of people.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] It's an ambitious
and visionary idea,
but first,
they have to find the right tiger.
They're deliberately looking
for a shy tigress,
one that will avoid humans
and their livestock.
But a shy tiger is tricky to catch.
Ravi the vet and his team
are here for the capture.
There are clear signs of the tiger...
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] But she stays hidden from view.
[Bilal speaking Hindi]
After several days and nights searching,
it's proving harder than they thought.
[Bilal speaking Hindi]
[narrator] If they can't catch
the first female,
the whole match-making project will fail
before it's even started.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] It may be months
before Bilal has a tigress to move.
Pooja and Kalyan are witnessing
another impact of rising tiger numbers.
More tigers fighting over territory.
[tiger rumbling softly]
This young tiger has blundered
into the path of a huge male.
[suspenseful music playing]
The older tiger makes it clear
they're not welcome.
One side usually backs down.
But sometimes,
the loser can get badly hurt.
Pooja and Kalyan
have come across a wounded male.
Their footage will help forest guards
identify the tiger
when they report the injury.
[Kalyan speaking]
[narrator] The forest guards will now
keep an eye on the tiger,
and if necessary,
bring it into Ravi's treatment center.
[tiger growling]
For Ravi, the rise in tigers means
there are many more cubs to care for.
Today, he's looking after a young tigress
who's become separated from her mother.
[Ravi speaking]
[narrator] There's good news for P2,
the captured tiger.
Ravi will soon be sending him
to a new home.
He's going to one of the world's
largest zoos in the city of Nagpur,
where he'll share an enclosure
with a female tiger.
[Ravi] P2.
[grumbles softly]
[Ravi speaking]
[indistinct chattering]
[narrator] P2 is lucky.
Roughly half of all tigers
leaving protected areas don't make it.
[indistinct chattering]
A female tiger has been found dead
and brought into Ravi's center.
He confirms her cause of death
and conducts her cremation.
[indistinct chattering]
The funeral rites reflect the honor
and respect held for every tiger.
[Ravi speaking]
[narrator] Electrocution is
the number one cause of tiger deaths.
Electric fencing is
often placed around fields
to stop wild deer and boar
from eating the crops.
But the tigers don't see the wires
until it's too late.
-[teacher in Hindi]
- [students exclaim]
[narrator in English] To avoid
more tiger deaths in the future,
the next generation
needs to understand more about them.
[all singing Hindi]
Shital and Rakesh have come to a school
on the edge of Tadoba National Park.
They're here to share their knowledge
of tigers with the kids
and teach them what to do
if they meet one.
[in Hindi]
[students in Hindi]
[Shital in Hindi]
[Rakesh in Hindi]
[students in Hindi]
[Rakesh in Hindi]
[students in Hindi]
-[Rakesh in Hindi]
- [students in English]
[students laughing]
-[Rakesh in Hindi]
- [students chatter]
- [students chuckle]
- [Rakesh speaks Hindi]
[narrator in English] Shital hopes
the kids will share these safety tips
with their friends and families.
[Shital in Hindi]
[narrator in English] Lessons over,
the class heads out
to a patch of degraded forest,
to help replant the area with trees.
[light music playing]
[in Hindi]
-[students in Hindi]
- [Rakesh] Hm?
[students in Hindi]
[indistinct chattering]
[Rakesh in Hindi]
[students in Hindi]
[Rakesh in Hindi]
[chatter in Hindi]
[Bright music playing]
[narrator in English]
After six months of trying,
Bilal has finally caught a tigress.
She's on her way to meet the lonely males
waiting for her at Nagzira National Park.
If she makes a match,
she'll help repopulate the reserve.
Instead of having to find
her own territory,
she's taking the easy way,
hitching a ride.
In Nagzira, she'll have lots of space...
and every chance of meeting a mate.
[in Hindi]
[vet speaking Hindi]
[narrator in English] The tigress
has been tranquilized
so that Bilal and the vet team
can give her a health check
and attach a GPS collar
before she's released.
[vets speaking Hindi]
[narrator] The collar will enable Bilal
to track the tiger's movements
as she starts to explore
her new territory.
It will stay attached for the next year
and will then be remotely triggered
to fall off by itself.
Ravi the vet is on hand
to monitor the tiger's condition
and make sure she is fit for release.
[speaking Hindi]
They check her weight and measurements,
to add to their growing database
of tigers.
[Bilal speaking Hindi]
[overlapping chatter]
[narrator] It's the first project
of its kind in India
and it's attracting a lot of attention.
The tiger will be released
by the state Forest Minister.
[speaking Hindi]
[Bright music playing]
[indistinct radio chatter]
[narrator] Five years of planning
have all come down to this moment.
[dramatic music playing]
[narrator] It's time
to release the tigress into her new home.
[growling softly]
[Upbeat music playing]
- [laughing]
- [crowd cheering]
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] Over the next few months,
Bilal and his team follow the tiger
around the clock.
Using signals from the collar,
they track her on the ground
and also from space,
mapping her every move.
The tigress is settling in well.
She hasn't strayed into any villages.
And she's got company.
[narrator] So far so good.
The move is a success.
Over the next year,
four more female tigers
will be brought here
to help boost the population.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] Meanwhile,
Ravi has come to see P2 in his new home,
Gorewada Zoo,
one of the largest in the world.
P2 now has a huge natural enclosure,
and will soon be joined by a new female.
[Ravi speaking]
[growls softly]
[narrator] P2 has a new role,
as an ambassador for tigers.
[mellow music playing]
[Ravi speaking]
[tourists chattering]
[narrator] P2 may never
go back to the wild
but he will help inspire
the next generation
to care about the future of tigers.
Pooja and Kalyan also want to inspire
people to think about tigers differently.
[speaking Hindi]
They've come to a village
close to Tadoba Tiger Reserve.
[narrator] Pooja and Kalyan
have created a short film
that they're about to screen
for the first time.
A crowd of over 300
have gathered for the show,
including forest guard Shital
and her team.
[crowd chattering]
[villagers in English]
[in Hindi]
[applause, chattering]
[narrator] The story is narrated
in the local language, Marathi,
from the point of view of the tiger.
[narrator in film in Marathi]
[narrator in English] For the villagers,
it's the first time they're seeing
images of tiger family life.
[narrator in film in Marathi] We're ready
to follow mom on her adventures.
[narrator in English]
The film shows the cubs
coming to grips with their jungle home,
and the challenges they face growing up.
[monkey barks]
[tiger whines]
[villagers chuckling]
The film also gives villagers tips
on how to stay safe in the forest.
[in Marathi]
[Pooja in English]
[in Hindi]
[narrator in English]
And the message is spreading.
In some places, a new attitude to tigers
is creating surprising opportunities.
Bilal is on his way
to the village of Alijanja.
[rooster crowing]
[narrator] Instead of battling
with the wildlife on their door-step,
the community here is embracing it.
In the first re-wilding project
of its kind in India,
farmers are paid
to keep their cattle off the grasslands.
This encourages wild animals,
which naturally attract tigers,
who bring in tourists.
[in Hindi]
[indistinct chatter]
[narrator in English] Local guide Arvind
now makes a living
from taking tourists on nature walks
in the landscape.
[Arvind speaking]
[narrator] A small eco-lodge
is also creating jobs for local people.
[in Hindi]
[narrator in English]
Bilal has been helping
since the project started in 2015.
[speaking Hindi]
He's loved seeing how local attitudes
towards wildlife have changed.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] The more deer,
the more tigers.
In this village, the current rise in tiger
numbers is a cause for celebration.
[Arvind in Hindi]
[Bilal in English]
[narrator] Back in Bhopal,
home to the urban tigress,
Pooja and Suman
are checking their remote cameras.
- Come only after sunset.
- [Pooja] Mm.
[narrator] They're hoping to see
the first images of her cubs.
[Suman and Pooja speaking]
[Pooja] Wow.
[Suman speaking]
- Wow.
- Oh, wow.
[narrator] The urban tigress has
four cubs, now aged around five months.
[Suman speaking]
[Pooja] Wow.
[Pooja speaking]
[Suman speaking]
[narrator] Bhopal's tigress is bringing up
the next generation of urban tigers.
They're now learning
how to be street-smart cubs.
[Pooja speaking]
[Suman speaking]
[narrator] And it's not just tigers
appearing on the remote cameras.
[animal calling]
Bhopal has secret residents
of all shapes and sizes.
Some neighbors can be prickly.
With no respect for privacy.
At night, all the animals are on the move
and trying to make it home before sunrise.
Better keep up with mom.
Some are naturally curious...
especially the tiger cubs.
[Playful music playing]
The cubs will continue to learn
from their mother
until it's time
to find their own territories.
One day, they'll show their own young
how to survive close to a city
and the knowledge will be passed down
through the generations.
[animals calling]
[narrator] After five years of filming,
it's time for the Disneynature crew
to pack up and head home.
They leave knowing that
India's tigers are on the rise.
And as they move into human areas,
some tigers are showing how it's possible
to thrive in a world of people.
[Bilal speaking]
[narrator] And people are
also playing their part
to ensure this unique relationship
lasts into the future.
[Bilal speaking]
[Upbeat music playing]