Friday, March 30, 2018

Tiger Ambush & Chase - Hunting

With Margaret & Georges France
Guests Courtyard House Kanha

Tiger Hunting Deer Video - Uday Patel
Kanha National Park in India

She must have arrived at predawn in the grassland and had settled down unseen. Whence we saw her she was safely ensconced in between the grass and could hardly be seen. We stayed there admiring the big cat in sylvan surroundings and serene settings that the forests are popular for. The rising sun had lit the strands of grass here and there creating a awe striking splendour. 

We must have waited for some time observing the tigress taking a peek at deer in and around preparing for the kill. This continued for some time till there was a rustle amongst the bushes across the road. Swiftly she turned around and vanished into a grassy patch behind, right opposite to the deer preparing to cross the road. We could not see her at all. Where was she?     

Ambush & Chase     

Suspense mounted as the deer (fawn + doe) slowly edged towards probably where the tigress was waiting. The camouflage was incredible as the big cat lay flat on her belly without a whisker being shaken. Tigers can sit incredibly silent and still of a very long time in wait for their prey and this is what the female was doing. She must be in the range of 130 to 150 kg weight and fully grown. 

The black stripes and yellow must be aiding her due to pattern disruption making her invisible in the meadow. The camouflage is remarkable and many times it is difficult for the prey to sight the predator. The body contours fit well in the terrain completely engulfing the animal, this is a unique feature and makes tigers stand out from other predators. Stealth and surprise are the key aspects of hunting and survival.       

The deer had yet not seen her and were few feet away totally unaware of death waiting ahead.  The fawn was following few steps behind the doe.  

It happened within a flick of the second as the tigress lunged at the fawn totally taken by surprise and fear. Rolling on its digit the big cat closed on the fawn covering a distance of about thirty feet. The move was effortless and strikingly fast. Upon nearing the fawn she struck at the tiny leg making him lose balance. Thus grounded she pierced her canines and broke the vertebrae of the prey. 

I could hear the heart wrenching sound of the fawn as it struck the ground. But mercifully it was all over in seconds. In nature death strikes fast due to a shock mechanism thus reducing the sufferings.

In the same movement the tigress gripped the fawn and was on her way to the cubs. She had come near to our jeep as it happened in few seconds and we could not reverse.  What was really surprising  the big cat had not run out of breadth and was moving swiftly probably towards her cubs. 

Dual Mode of Hunting 

The female had not only used an ambush but also chased the prey exhibit how the tigers hunt in the wild. The patience exhibited was remarkable and the ground chosen to hide showed how experienced the animal was.