Kanha, Race of Life Vs Death!
It was October last week, a typical Kanha start of winter morning & we were in mukki meadows (large grass land), the morning mist hanging on the grass land was melting by entry of rising sun in the sky. Visitors often complain about less tiger sighting at Kanha in this season but I feel forest is at its best in Kanha in late October. The air is cool & a wonderful green screen of Sal welcomes you, the huge spread of grass displays a multicolored canvas for the drama which is on all the time & you have to just park your gypsy on a road along the grass land & become part of the drama unfolding in front of your eyes! It was one such morning & were chasing an alarm call(what else?) which died off after sometimes & suddenly our eyes were on some movement in grass land ahead so we moved forward & a pack of wild dogs was relaxing in morning sun in the grass along the two small adjoining lakes at center of the grass land. Many people (read most) don’t understand importance of wild dogs & ignore their sighting but let me tell you something, there are nearly hundred plus tigers in Kanha but if I am right wild dogs are even lesser than this figure; now you can realize the importance of wild dogs in forest & rarity of their sighting! Well, first we saw just three/ four of them but as we came in full view it was biggest pack I have seen in recent with nearly twenty wild dogs in it. All of them were relaxing which actually they weren’t because that was the strategy to keep their prey unalarmed. On the far side of meadows where the Sal tree wall stood, a large pack of spotted deers' was grazing unaware of wild dogs but wild dogs were very much aware about them. There was discussion going on in the pack about the attack formation & slowly in calculated move one by one wild dogs started moving towards the deer pack surrounding them & suddenly in last leap they all sprang from three sides driving the deer herd towards the center of the grass land! There was silent stampede as no alarm call was made by the deers, just they started running wildly in all directions. And soon the canvas of the meadows was active like cinema screen with nearly hundred deers’ & twenty wild dogs running all around; it was race of life vs. death as deers’ were running for life & wild dogs running to kill, which in a way life for them actually! I have seen such scenes only on National Geography or Animal Planet channels but today I was experiencing it live & no camera was enough to cover this drama! Wild dogs were trying to separate one of the deers’ from the herd & kill it by trying to tire it which is their normal tactics. But even with full fledged effort that was deer's lucky day & wild dogs had to end their attack without success except a small fawn which wasn’t enough for eighteen of them. And then the wild dogs realized, there was a barsingha in one of the small lake, a treat so near! Immediately putting the spotted deers’ failed mission behind the pack started planning a new move & covered the small lake from all sides. The poor barsingha already sensed its death by looking at approaching pack & moved towards deeper waters instead running out of lake & watching it I could feel the wild dogs smiling between them by barsingha’s move because the barsingha has sealed its death by going deep in water as wild dogs are natural swimmers & in water the heavy barsingha has restrictions on its movements. Needless to say the outcome was it turned out as happy day finely for the wild dogs pack but not so, for the poor barsingha! Entire drama lasted for some thirty minutes leaving behind a dead barsingha caracas, feasting wild dogs & mesmerized faces of few human beings with cameras!! One more Kanha tour has started for me…sanjay deshpande, Oct 18 Kanha.
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