As tiger cubs reach 20 months of age they begin the process of dispersal, leaving their mother in order to establish a territory of their own. This process can result in lethal conflicts in the age-old survival of the fittest. While her bolder siblings went on to claim territory on the reserve, Panna struggled to establish ground. She was small and unaggressive, a gentle tigress who suffered severe lashings in territorial disputes, even at the paws of the highly aggressive tigress Shadow. These fights resulted in Panna’s signature tatty ears, which often lend a sorrowful disposition to her face.

In 2011 JV moved Panna into the northwest region of Tiger Canyon, and on these grassy reaches she flourished. With the freedom of a new territory she developed by leaps and bounds, unlocking a potential that had lain dormant within her. She went on to become the first self-sustaining hunter, with JV recording up to 12 hartebeest, 4 waterbuck, impala and warthog kills– as well as a blue wildebeest, a large and formidable prey animal.

With this newly-acquired vigour, the tigress came into regular estrus, and in 2017 gave birth to three cubs fathered by the tiger Khumba. With the arrival of her cubs a new confidence blossomed in Panna, so that the once shy and retreating tigress became habituated to the presence of game viewers, often allowing vehicles close enough to provide astounding photographic opportunities.

She has evolved from the runt of the litter to an ambassador tigress in her own right, a completely wild and lethal predator confident enough to be viewed by humans. Now a regular photographic attraction, the tigress provides tremendous insight into tiger behaviour and the remarkable intelligence and adaptability that these apex predators display, characteristics that have allowed the tigers to not only adapt to the African habitat, but to survive and conquer it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]