Live another day

Back in Dec 2012, was part of a photography tour to Valparai and Annamali , deep within the beautiful and enchanting Western Ghats of India, a tour that was organized by Kalyan Varma and Dilan Mandana. Around 2 pm, as we approached one of the forest guest house on the banks of the Pambar river, the place where we were supposed to have our lunch, we heard alarm calls of a Sambar very close to where we were and knowing that a predator was near by, we rushed towards the direction of where the sound was coming from. We climbed into and then out of couple of six foot trenches and scrambled through thick bushes to see the Sambar which was giving out alarm calls.

Here is how that story went :

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Through the thick bushes, we managed to see a Sambar mother and her fawn, in slightly deep and fast flowing water

 

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The fawn looked in trouble, but mom was looking at something at the other bank of the river

 

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Mom was fixated on looking out for the lone Dhole, the main reason for the alarm calls and the reason for her to get her fawn into the river, in the hope of crossing over to the other side of the river

 

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Dholes usually hunt in packs and we were surprised to see this lone member. We waited in our cramped positions, waiting to see if the other members of the pack would show up. This was the shot of the dhole looking at us directly, trying to figure out who else was there.

 

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Sambar repeatedly stomped the ground, creating huge splashes. Stomping is a typical way of displaying a warning sign on sighting a predator.

 

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Sambar put herself between the Dhole and her fawn. Never losing sight of the Dhole

 

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But every now and then she would turn to check on her fawn as well.

 

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You could clearly see that the Sambar thought of the Dhole as the main threat and hence did not leave her guard to go and help the fawn struggling in the water.

 

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This whole scene went on for about 20-25 minutes …

 

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Sambar kept up her vigil… on both the Dhole and her fawn, which luckily had found some shallow waters by then and was standing in calmer waters.

 

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We were not sure how long this would go on. Then, suddenly the Dhole seem to say enough is enough and decided to leave the hunt and go else where…

 

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Sambar climbed to the exact same spot where the Dhole was sitting and double checked to see if the predator had really left. She then turned back and then went towards her fawn ….

 

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We could not see the Sambar and the fawn after this point, but were pretty sure they both lived to tell their story and the valley turned tranquil as if nothing had happened.

 

That is how the Sambar mother stood between her fawn and the lone Dhole and lived another day.

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