By Mark McConville
STUNNING action shots have captured the moment an angry mother bear chased off two huge tigers to protect her cubs.
Incredible images show the sloth bear walking with the two cubs on her back as a female tiger approaches her.
The bear doesn’t back down and confronts the tiger by standing on her hind legs and roaring at her.
The tiger quickly backs down but her male companion decides to have a go at the bear before he too is sent packing.
The remarkable encounter was captured in Ranthambhore National Park, India by wildlife tourism professional Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh (52), from Sawai Madhopur, India.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The sloth bear and her cubs weren’t out of danger yet as the male tiger took an interest and decided to confront her.
“By this time the male tiger who was observing the drama from a little distance decided to get involved,” added Singh.
“T 24 is about four 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.
“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.”
The large canine teeth of sloth bears, relative to both its overall body size and to the size of the canine teeth of other bear species, and the aggressive disposition of sloth bears, may be a defence in interactions with large, dangerous animals, such as the tiger, elephant, and rhinoceros.
Bengal tigers occasionally prey on sloth bears. Tigers usually give sloth bears a wide berth, though some specimens may become habitual bear killers, and it is not uncommon to find sloth bear fur in tiger scats.
When confronted by tigers face to face, sloth bears charge at them, crying loudly. A young or already sated tiger usually retreats from an assertive sloth bear, as the bear’s claws can inflict serious wounds, and most tigers end the hunt if the bears become aware of the tiger’s presence before the pounce.