Sachin Rai, a wildlife photographer, has been shooting tigers in their threatened habitats for about two decades, and has captured an array of moods of the big cats.
I made this portrait of the tigress Lightning when she was about a year and half old, and used to hang out with her two siblings close to the lake area in Ranthambore, in their mother's territory. Like all sub-adult tigers, she was extremely curious of our presence, and, that day in particular, she came out of the thicket and walked towards our vehicle and stood around 10 meters from us, watching us.
Tiger mothers leave their cubs alone for over a day at times when they go to patrol their territory and also look for food. A tiger’s hunting success rate is only about 10 percent, and it takes a lot of effort to make a kill, so there are times the mother doesn’t return for a long time. This was the case that morning too. We knew that the mother had left her three cubs in this area the previous morning, and they stayed put at the same place for over 24 hours. Thanks to the cubs' boredom, I got to make some nice portraits.