The Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve authorities have provided a cuddly toy tigress as a substitute after the death of their mother, in a bid to improve the survival chances of three traumatised cubs.
The toy tigress has been specially designed to give the cubs a motherly feeling.
Synthetic nipples have been attached to the dummy, which the cubs consider as real.
Initially, the cubs were hand-fed milk but as they didn’t responded positively to the human interaction, a substitute in the form of toy mum was placed.
"We tried to give them goats' milk initially but they didn't like the human interaction. They just refused to take the bottle from our staff," Mridul Pathak, the field director at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the central state of Madhya Pradesh said.
The officer said, "Now they have been feeding from the synthetic nipples attached to the dummy for six days. Their energy levels increased from the first feed."
In order give a homely and natural feel to the cubs, forest rangers have also built a special enclosure for the cubs inside their compound, using twigs, grass and sand to mimic their natural habitat, he said.
The mother of these cubs was believed to be killed after brushing against an electric fence erected by cattle farmers, said the officer.
In rural India it is common to keep dummy calves next to cows and buffaloes who stop lactating when they lose their offspring. The sense of attachment encourages the mothers to begin producing milk again.
India is home to more than half of the world's tiger population with more than 2,200 roaming its reserves, according to the most recent census in 2014.
At least 98 big cats died last year, said the National Tiger Conservation Authority, with poaching blamed in most cases.