Dynasties (2018) s01e05 Episode Script

Tiger

Tigers are the largest, most powerful, and perhaps the most loved of all the big cats.
Yet, over the past century, their numbers have declined by 95%.
Our team has spent two years following one tigress with her cubs as she attempts to rear them.
Her problems come not just from the natural world, but from having to do so at close quarters with us.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the heart of India.
A rich, tropical jungle.
At the base of this cliff, a secret cave hiding within is a tigress known as Raj Bera Two weeks ago, she chose this cave in which to give birth to her new family.
This is her daughter, Biba.
And these are her first, rather unsteady steps.
Biba has three brothers.
The four of them together are the next generation of this tiger dynasty.
Raj Bera is one of the most formidable predators on earth.
But her cubs are vulnerable and will remain so for the next two years.
It will take all her strength and skill as a mother to protect and provide for them, if she is to raise them to adulthood.
This forest has everything a tiger family needs.
Plenty of fresh water, dense thickets for concealment, and open grasslands full of prey.
After two hungry weeks confined to the den with her cubs, Raj Bera needs food.
She is an experienced hunter.
But her prey are always on high alert.
Fortunately, she knows how to disappear.
Even with her experience, most hunts end this way.
But now she faces a dilemma.
As evening draws in, leaving the cubs unprotected in their den could put them in danger.
The night shift are already on the prowl.
A sloth bear.
It will kill cubs if it can find them.
Once a den has been discovered, it's no longer safe.
She needs to move her family.
The family are safe at a new den.
An experienced tigress like Raj Bera may know half a dozen hideaways like this.
Even though she failed in her hunt, the cubs are as hungry for milk as ever.
For a tigress to feed and protect, as many as four young is a relentless challenge.
It's unlikely that she will be able to raise them all.
And in India today, there are new pressures, making it harder than ever to rear a family to adulthood.
Raj Bera's territory is just big enough to support her cubs, but she's surrounded by territories held by other tigers.
And all are encircled by human settlement.
There are about 80 tigers in Bandhavgarh.
This is an unusually high density.
Competition for space is intense.
Scarred faces are evidence of battles between rivals.
To keep her territory secure, Raj Bera regularly patrols its 12-mile-long boundary.
Each time she sprays, she's marking a line that other tigers know they cross at their peril.
Territory marking in the midday heat is hard work.
She needs to cool off.
An amorous male peacock.
Every day, she has to strike an almost impossible balance, dividing her time between hunting, scent marking her boundaries, and nursing her cubs.
For now the demands of her young family must take precedence.
Her cubs have reached the stage when they start exploring.
Although even walking hasn't been completely mastered.
Differences between the cubs are beginning to appear.
The three brothers are caught up in a rough and tumble.
But their sister, Biba, holds back.
She is smaller and not as strong as her brothers.
And these differences will only become more apparent, as they grow older.
Two months later and the family has left the den for good.
The cubs are now strong enough to follow their mother.
She must now start on their education.
She shows them around her territory.
And most importantly, introduces them to a new diet.
Meat.
The cubs have doubled in size, so that she has to hunt even more frequently to provide for their growing appetites.
Since the birth of her cubs, Raj Bera has not been able to patrol her territory as regularly as she did.
And that has given a rival an opportunity.
This is Solo, Raj Bera's adult daughter.
And she is trespassing on her mother's lands, some of the richest in the whole of Bandhavgarh.
She may be unaware that Raj Bera is hunting here.
Normally adult tigers avoid each other.
Because fights even between mother and daughter can be fatal.
But now, 5010 appears to be testing her mother.
Faced with Raj Bera's confident advance, Solo immediately defers, rolling on her back like a cub.
She's not old enough or strong enough to challenge for the territory Yet.
Raj Here is still the ruler here.
But Solo has issued a warning.
With their territory secure, the family can relax together.
The cubs are now spending more and more time developing their coordination and agility.
And they do that through play.
A Wild boar.
It could be on the menu of an adult tiger.
But one of the male cubs is being a little ambitious.
Perhaps not yet.
Winter arrives in Bandhavgarh.
The cubs are nine months old.
In their adolescence.
And the neighbours are beginning to take them more seriously.
Raj Bera has done well to keep all her cubs alive so far.
Typically only 50% of tiger cubs survive to adulthood.
But now, the family relationships are changing.
She no longer lets the cubs eat first.
She has to teach them that one day they will have to provide for themselves.
Once she has had her fill, her sons dominate the carcass.
It's only when they have finished that their smaller sister, Biba, gets her chance to feed undisturbed.
Alarm calls warn of an intruder.
This time it's an adult male tiger.
He's a third bigger than Raj Bera and much more power-flit.
This is the cubs' favourite water hole.
Mother and sons sleep off their meal.
But Biba heads off alone.
Adult male tigers sometimes kill cubs, so, to approach one is a huge risk.
Unless of course he's your father, the only male in the forest who would never harm her.
Tiger fathers rarely meet their offspring.
And he doesn't seem keen to get acquainted.
But while he is patrolling the forest, other males will keep away.
And the cubs will be safe.
For everything else, the cubs depend on Raj Bera.
She still has to provide for the whole family.
It's summer.
Over the next few weeks the searing heat will suck the moisture from the land.
Temperatures soar to over 45 degrees.
And Bandhavgarh has to survive the worst drought in a decade.
It's a good time to be a vulture.
The water holes in Raj Bera's territory become magnets for the park's thirsty inhabitants.
Normally, langurs spend most of their time out of reach in the trees.
But during the drought, they must risk crossing open ground to get water.
Once the braver adults make their move, the rest of the troop follow.
Out of their comfort zone, they're nervous.
No danger here, as far as she can see.
But you can't drink and watch all at the same time.
Here in the heart of Raj Here's territory, these water holes become the focus of the family's life throughout these driest months.
It's not just prey that are drawn here to the water holes.
A new trespasser.
It seems this tigress is way of pressing her claim today.
But it's clear there are now more rivals for Raj Here's hunting territory.
And now distant roars signal further trouble.
Solo, Raj Bera's adult daughter, is mating for the first time.
She will soon have her own family with new mouths to feed.
And its not long before she's back, hunting deep in her mother's territory.
She is poaching.
The year-old cubs are practising their hunting skills on each other.
Capturing prey requires power and agility.
As well as the skills of ambush and attack.
Their survival will depend on mastering the ability to kill.
But for another eight months, their mother must continue to provide.
And she's having to work much harder now.
Even a kill as big as this won't last the family more than a couple of days.
Her sons are the first to every meal and jealously guard their share.
Biba is forced to wait.
She will be lucky if she gets anything more than scraps.
Leaving her well-fed brothers behind, Biba tries to hunt for herself.
She's watched her mother do this many times.
Stalk and drop.
She has mastered the technique of becoming invisible.
But she doesn't yet have the size or strength to strike.
Strong winds signal the arrival of the monsoon.
The abundance of water means that, for most of the forest's inhabitants, the good times have returned.
But the monsoon is the worst time for Raj Bera and her family.
Her prey are no longer dependent on the water holes.
They are now free to disperse throughout her territory.
They will be much harder for her to ambush.
A few weeks later near the western boundary of her lands, there has been a fight.
And Raj Bera is injured.
A serious injury to a mother tiger can mean starvation for her cubs.
Biba is invariably the last to benefit from her mother's hunting.
She needs to fend for herself.
And to do that, she must find her own territory, away from her brothers.
But where can she go? Every other territory is already occupied.
She's forced to search outside Bandhavgarh altogether.
Her mother will never see her again.
The male cubs are also going hungry.
They, too, are trying to fend for themselves.
The deer are too alert for novices.
With the demands of three adolescent male cubs and increasing hostility from her rivals, Raj Bera is facing the greatest ever threat to her dynasty.
She takes a drastic step and leaves the safety of the park in the hope of easier prey.
Cattle in the neighbouring villages.
For tigress and people, there is real danger here.
It's a conflict that Raj Bera cannot win.
Dawn, the next day.
Raj Bera.
She was rescued by the park authorities and released back into her territory, to rejoin her family.
Over the last two years, she's struggled to raise her cubs safely to this point.
And although she's lost her daughter, her sons are on the brink of adulthood.
Against the odds, she still has the chance to secure the future of her tiger dynasty.
A century ago, there were more than 100,000 tigers.
Today, there are only 4,000, with 7096 of them found in India, mostly in protected areas such as Bandhavgarh.
Indian conservationists like Krithi Karanth are concerned about the challenges facing these reserves.
Unlike parks in Africa and the Americas, parks in India are extremely small.
So tiger populations in these tiny parks are under huge pressure.
There is a real danger that we could see this amazing cat go extinct.
Bandhavgarh is home to over 80 tigers.
But, as director Theo Webb discovers, they're not easy to find.
I just saw a tiger which turned out to be red sand.
I'm the stupid one today.
Even the real thing is almost invisible.
So, right here is one of the problems why we can't find tigers, because they are so well hidden.
If you look in here, they are so well camouflaged, especially in this dense undergrowth.
Her stripes blend in exactly with the bamboo.
It's almost impossible to see them.
Local guides have told the crew of a tigress they call Raj Bera who is expecting cubs.
If they can find her, she will be the perfect tiger to follow.
The guides listen for other animals' warning calls.
Monkey leaping along.
That's a sign that the tiger's, like, right there.
Okay.
The team can then home in on the tiger.
So we've just come across this tigress.
We heard alarm calls, followed her here, and it could be our female that we've been looking for.
We've done a comparison between two photos, one we know is her, and one of her, I think, just now.
They're looking similar.
- It's pretty much her.
- Yeah.
It's Raj Bera.
But where is her den? A tigress will choose the most inaccessible place to give birth.
Impossible to follow in a vehicle.
But the forest department have elephants to help protect the animals against poachers.
And While patrolling the forest, they also search for dens.
Two weeks later, Raj Bera's den has been discovered.
She's chosen one of the most inaccessible spots in the whole park, to make her den, which is kinda sensible if you're a tiger.
Now they need to film the family without disturbing them.
Cameraman, John Brown, positions a remote-controlled camera away from the den.
The specially designed tripod allows John to retreat even further to minimise disturbance.
He's finally rewarded with an extremely rare view.
Cubs just a few weeks old.
Today's been absolutely incredible.
We've had a completely unique view into the life of tigers.
It's been one of the most amazing moments of my career.
I never thought we'd get it actually, but, you know I didn't tell anyone else that.
Once the cubs leave the den, the family disappears into the forest.
Now the crew have to switch to a new technique.
Camera traps, used regularly by the park authorities.
They stake out likely locations including water holes.
Inhabitants tum up.
But no tigers.
A few weeks later, Theo discovers that one of the camera traps has somehow become flooded.
Wow.
Oh, my God.
Mystery solved.
And, at last, intimate shots of the cubs.
And eventually even of their father.
For another nine months, the crew are able to follow the life of the family as the cubs grow up.
But then, suddenly, they witness a very different side to the story.
So, somewhere over here is our tigress.
In order to find food, she's coming to these really risky areas, to hunt cattle, clogs, whatever she can find.
So, this is really scary for her.
And to be honest, for us as well.
There is no other tiger reserve within 50 miles.
So, whenever a tiger leaves the park, it's inevitable that it will encounter people.
The forest department take control.
Raj Bera is tranquillised, and taken to safety.
And, next day, is returned to her territory.
We've been filming this female for two years and we've got attached to her.
We've seen her with these two-week-old cubs, we've seen her lose one cub, and now we've seen her outside the park.
This is the life of a modern tiger.
It's not easy.
It's not how it used to be for them.
We need to create more space for tigers to move, breed, and disperse.
It is our responsibility to make sure that future generations of children, including my own, get to see tigers in the wild.
All the animals we've seen in this series need space in which to live.
And loss of space is a great threat to their survival as it is to virtually all other species.
We ourselves, one single species, have ta ken over vast tracts of the habitable surface of the planet.
Surely, we should allow those other creatures, we share the planet with, to retain some part of their ancient heritage.