Ranthambore's famous male tiger, known as T-25, Dollar or Zaalim, passed away over the weekend at the age of 15. In the early 2010s, T-25 had left all forest officials and wildlife enthusiasts shocked when he had taken two orphaned cubs under his care. He had adopted the cubs, around three months old, then known as Bina-1 and Bina-2, after their mother, a tigress known as T-5, had died due to intestinal illness in 2011. While the forest authorities were worried about the survival of the cubs, T-25 took over the caring and rearing of Bina-1 and Bina-2.
In a gesture unprecedented among the male tigers, T-25 taught the cubs how to hunt and took motherly care. He took the two cubs on walks and showed them the territorial boundaries. He showed them the markings and gave them lessons on how to identify smells. According to forest officials, had it not been for T-25, the cubs would not have survived. While male tigers are often seen as a threat to cubs, T-25, on the other hand, protected Bina-1 and Bina-2. According to an IE report, former honorary wildlife warden Balendu Singh said that he had once seen a tigress attacking one of the cubs. T-25 had then jumped in front of the tigress to protect them. According to the IE report, authorities believe that T-25 was the father of the cubs.
While the cubs had been sent to Sariska Tiger Reserve shortly after, T-25 lived on and was remembered as the tiger who turned into a caregiver. The tiger was found dead in the reserve's Sanwata area on Monday morning. According to the post-mortem report, he had sustained head injuries, leading officials to believe that he had been involved in a territorial fight and could not stand up to his opponent.
Expressing condolences and announcing the news, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday tweeted, "Ranthambore's famous Tiger-T25 is no more. It was a magnanimous Tiger, who took care of two orphan cubs."
T-25 was among the most visible tigers in the reserve and he was often seen growling at visitors, which gave him the name Zaalim. However, one act of unprecedented kindness on his part saved two cubs, who continue to live in the Sariksha reserve.