In Search of a Mate
Shy Boy bites the back of TiBo's neck, 36 months old, in her first
I once had a fascinating conversation with
Jane Fonda, concerning "teen pregnancy" in America.
The theme of Jane's concern was that although
American teenagers viewed several hours of TV a day, where sex
and violence was graphically shown, the teenagers remained
dangerously ignorant when it came to sex.
In fact even today, 820 000 teenagers in die
USA become pregnant each year. In South Africa around 70 000
girls younger than 18 fall pregnant every year.
It's a fascinating time at Tiger Canyons
because Tigress Julie's three teenage daughters, Tiger Bomb (TiBo),
Indira and Ussuri are all coming into estrus for the first
Tigress Julie, their mother, has been
physically aggressive to them for some months, forcing them to
disperse out and find territories of their own.
Nature provides an ingenious system to
maintain genetic diversity. All the young tigresses come into
estrus at the same time.
Now the dominant male "Shy Boy" who has
access to all three females, can only mate with one of the
daughters, because he must commit a full 4 days to the mating
with one female.
While "Shy Boy" mates 150 times over 4 days with
"TiBo", his brother "Tiger Boy" has access to "Indira" and another
male "Sariska" gets to mate with "Ussuri".
Under this system, the gene lines are kept
diverse. If the tigresses estrus was not synchronized, then "Shy
Boy" could cover all three females and then all the cubs would have
one father instead of three.
It is fascinating to watch the young
tigresses advertise their estrus. They perch on high rocks where
they vocalize and leave chemical messages to advertise their
Ussuri, 36 months old, sits high on the rocks in a visual
display to the male tigers
Compare this to young girls sending scripted
messages to prospective boyfriends. On Facebook they can put
pictures of themselves and give details of their preferences.
The Blackberry revolutionized courting behaviour because through
the BBM system, they can talk for free. I have seen teenage boys
actively swapping and trading BBM numbers of girls to add to
their Blackberry list. The prettier the girl, the higher the
price her BBM and telephone number will be.
One teacher at a prominent girls boarding
school, told me that the rule was that all cell phones should be
handed in during the week. The girls would beat the system by
buying two cell phones. One would be handed in and using the
second, they would during class send messages to boys at the
nearby boys school. The girls became so efficient, that they
could send a message by holding the cell phone under the desk
and sending the message blind.
Clearly the urge to find a mate is a powerful
force in humans, tigers and indeed all successful species.
It is well known that pheromones play a huge
role in the connection of prospective mates. Young ladies have
learnt to use perfumes to enhance these pheromones. The young
tigresses roll in certain Karoo herbs to make themselves
socially more attractive.
Therefore in a search for a mate, the young
tigresses have sent chemical message through their territorial
marking fluid. The young tigresses have become very visual by
perching on rocks and have called for a mate with vocal
By spraying on prominent trees and rocks with marking fluid, the
young tigresses advertise their estral condition
The young ladies have used cell phones, facebook etc. to
communicate to prospective mates. By using make-up and
perfume they have made themselves more beautiful and
socially more attractive. The tactics used by teenage girls
and young tigresses are virtually the same.
A male tiger pulls a Flehmen Face. By sucking in the scent and
passing it through the Organ of Jacobsen in the roof of his
mouth, he determines whether the tigress is ready for mating
By following the chemical trail of the lioness, the male lion
locates her and determines whether she is ready for mating
It is in the copulation that the tigers and
In Tigress Julie's last litter, she copulated
150 times to produce 5 cubs. This means for every cub, she must
copulate 30 times. This is an enormous expenditure of energy and
For human beings, just one copulation at the
right time can result in pregnancy. The energy expended in
copulation for human beings is far less than for tigers.
The copulation can be painful for the tigress so she
aggressively orders the male to dismount.
The reward for multi copulation in tigers, is
4 or 5 cubs in a litter, whereas human's rarely produce more
than one offspring.
Tigresses can produce offspring in their 4th
year, whereas human beings must wait for 12 to 13 years before
After mating, TiBo rolls on her back to allow the sperm to
Therefore one may ask which is the better
system? Human beings now number 7 billion, so in theory theirs
is the better system.
However, one must ask at what environmental
cost has their been to achieve this number? How many species
have humans swept aside to became the "dominant species" on
The reproduction of the tiger is a highly
successful system, but it is being out competed by human
If the number of 1 tiger lost per day in the
wild is correct, then the wild tiger will be gone in 4 to 5
Then all that will remain is ±50,000 tigers
in zoos, circuses and private collections, an indictment against
the human species, if ever I saw one.