Posts Tagged ‘wild dogs’

Monsoon is not the best time for sighting wildlife, or so is the belief. Monsoon is also not the ideal time for photography. But wildlife always throws surprises.

Butch and I were not keen on any particular sighting, but wished to see a pack wild dogs (at least after learning about a pack of 31). Ramesh was our driver on the first day’s evening safari. Half an hour into the safari we saw 3-4 jeeps coming from the opposite direction. They had seen a tiger cross and said they were expecting it to cross this path (one that leads to Subrayana katte). I asked Ramesh to take jeep in reverse without starting it. I didn’t want other jeeps to go ahead and block our view, and didn’t want the tiger to be disturbed because of our jeep’s noise.

Butch and I were sitting at the rear end of the Commander. Just as the jeep moved, a tiger emerged out of the thick lantana bushes right next to our jeep. She was right next to us, not more than 7 to 8 feet. I clicked an image, and realized she was too close. As I zoomed out, couple of other jeeps that were behind ours moved towards her out of the jeep track, overtaking our jeep. She turned back for a moment that i missed to click as i zoomed out to get her in the frame. She strolled away from us, scent marked on a tree and slipped into the bushes. The sighting lasted about 25 seconds, but the closeness was surreal. Rest of the safari was spent in tracking her to a waterhole, where she didn’t appear.

Monday morning safari started with sighting of few wild dogs on the highway. They were moving inside, towards tavare katte. It’s not easy to miss a pack of 31 wild dogs even if you have little idea of their movement. We caught up with them within 15min. The alpha dogs attempted to make a kill of Sambar fawn, which swan to the middle of the lake. Realizing that the effort was not worth, the pack leaders moved on follwed by sub adults and older pups of the pack.

Sub-adults and pups waiting for alpha dogs to make a kill

We were sure they will make a kill soon. Within minutes we saw a stag emerge out of bushes, chased by alpha female. She stopped momentarily seeing the jeeps. Taking this chance the stag crossed the road and scampered for an exit. Since there were only 3 jeeps, the dogs were comfortable and had enough space for themselves. The pack leader chased down the stag, faster than a sprinter.

Dholes start eating the prey while it is still alive

Stag was trying to gore the dog with his antlers, but the agility of the dog dodge him and made quick bites. Within seconds we could see the flesh and blood from the rear of the deer. The lead dog was joined by another. One caught the stag by neck and the other started eating from the rear. There is nothing clean or swift about this kill. Each bite will rip piece of flesh from the prey.

The action was simply incredible to watch. No photograph makes justice to the scene i witnessed. Soon, the deer was dead and another dog pulled the carcass inside the bushes.

Can’t describe the pain in the eyes of the deer

Little ahead on the road, the rest of the pack were waiting for the alpha dogs to arrive. Soon after the kill, the alpha female came to invite the rest of the pack for breakfast. She was so well greeted by her pups. They all strolled behind the bushes towards the deer carcass. We left them to have their breakfast in peace.

I was not asking for anything more. But we still had two safaris. The best part of Bandipur is that you are not disappointed even if you don’t sight a tiger. There are many other creatures that catch your eye, especially in monsoon. A Peacock was  trying to impress a mate. The dance and the way he put up the show was a treat to watch. If he were a guy, women would throw themselves at him.

A Peafowl dancing to impress his better half


Common Hoopoe

Stripe-necked mongooses are commonly found in Bandipur. Here’s one on his daily routine of finding beetles and other insects for a quick meal.

Commonly found Stripe-necked Mongoose

Bandipur has a variety of woodpeckers. Before we sighted the tiger, we were enjoying the sight of a female streak-throated woodpecker, who was soon joined by her better half. Monsoon is the season of love in the wild.

Female Streak-throated Woodpecker

Mr. & Mrs. Streak-throated Woodpecker


Red-wattled Lapwings are common around waterholes and open grass areas of Mulapura.

Red-wattled Lapwing

Crested Serpent Eagle preening

This is only an indication of what one can find in Bandipur. Go, enjoy the rains!

P.S.: This trip was from 6th June to 8th June 2010.  I tried to restrict the number of images, but couldn’t resist posting these many.

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It’s not the leopard, not even the tiger. The deadliest assassins in the Indian Jungles are Wild Dogs or Indian Dholes (Cuon alpinus). The have the best strategy for hunting – team work.

Their communication skills are fantastic, whistling sometimes, and just intuitive co-ordination at others.

A pack of 14 wild dogs were sighted regularly around Mulapur area of Bandipur National Park. Unlike tigers and leopards, wild dogs in a pack of this size hunt almost everyday. Wild dogs can hunt down prey much larger than their size, and they commonly feast on Sambar and Spotted deers.

An alpha dog leads the attack, and keeps an eye for prey, and threats from other predators.

On a particular day, the pack of 14 dogs showed a remarkable strategy. The divided into two groups of 7 each, and were pursuing Chitals. We were tracking two packs, and the spotted deer for nearly an hour.

Usually found in herds of 10 or more, these two Chitals were separated from the herd by the pack. Their anxious look is evident in the image.

Tall lantana bushes made us lose track of a pack of 7 dogs, and the chitals. Half an hour later, we caught the two packs uniting – one pack well fed, evident from their belly, and the other still looking for a meal.

A Red-Wattled Lapwing chick became the casuality. Within few seconds, right in front of my eyes, the chick was caught and feasted on even as the hapless mother Lapwing looked on (in the background, left of the tree trunk).

Krupakar and Senani have a wonderful documentary, Wild dog diaries, on these predators at Bandipur produced for National Geographic. They were filming the second series of this documentary at the park this time, and i’m sure this pack of 14 dogs will be taking a center stage. I got a chance to meet the wonderful duo at their home – a memory i’ll cherish forever.

On ICUN endangered species list, Indian Dholes are on recovery mode. There are at least 4 packs in the Bandipur tourist area, and is good to see them thrive.

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