Link to Part 2 of the series is here
Kabini is famous for its leopards and tigers. They are the apex predators in Nagarahole but there is one more predator, much smaller but no less fearsome; at least for the prey species. The dhole, or Indian wild dog. What it lacks in size, it makes up in cunning and ferociousness.
A few years ago, on sunny summer evening, we were caught unaware by a freak thunderstorm in the Kabini reservoir. The storm lasted a good 45 minutes and we had to beach that boat for safety. After it blew over we made our way back in pitch darkness. It was the light of a few torches and the experience of the boatman that got us back to the resort safely.
|Flashback 2011. Trying to outrun the storm|
|Flashback 2011. The storm hitting us from behind|
|Black naped hare & stripe necked mongoose|
|One of the magnificent tuskers Nagarahole is famous for|
A little further up the track we found the parents standing on a fallen tree looking at something in the distance. They were in the hunting mode and we could sense the thrill of a live hunt. Dholes are pack hunters and I was wondering what two adults would bring down.
Without warning, they leapt off the tree and went racing after something which we could not see. We couldn't keep up with a bus and abandoned any thought of giving chase and parked at a junction waiting for the adults to return.
They would return because the pups were still behind us. They were not running like their parents but were following more slowly.
They all gathered around another fallen tree and were calling in their peculiar whistling way to their parents. A few minutes later we heard the parents return their call and soon enough they were came back to where the pups were waiting for them. No successful kill today.
The wet elephants look like they were made of black clay!
The rain had made the grass grow fresh and the were twisting the green shoots and feasting on it.
A little further on, pair of sambar bolted across the grass giving alarm calls. A predator was on the move but none that appeared in front of our waiting eyes.
The wild dogs are pack hunters. They run down their prey and attack from all around. Once selected and cornered the victim doesn't stand a chance. What is more gruesome is that they don't wait for the victim to die. They start feeding even before death overcomes their unfortunate prey.
Perhaps they don't want to take chances. A tiger or leopard in the vicinity might get interested, though it is highly unlikely the bigger predators will try to steal from these fierce creatures! I have seen a leopard run for its life, chased by two dholes, in Bandipur. That was another stormy day in the summer of 2010. If it were a full strength pack even a tiger will not stand a chance. A leopard can scramble up a tree, (see the link in pink), but a tiger will be hard pressed to escape!