“For a split second the jungle went completely quiet. The quiet before the storm.
Then, with an electrical charge, a jolt of energy that could be felt, the quiet was broken. The herd of around 20 chital, or Indian spotted deer, suddenly broke cover and ran as fast as they could through the dry, crackling undergrowth. Various warning calls shrilled and competed to be heard from the tree tops. With our cameras poised and our hearts beating in our throats my fellow safari goers and I watched on. In this prey-rich environment the deer could have been pursued by a tiger or a leopard, or perhaps the elusive and secretive black panther that calls Nagarhole National Park home. But on this occasion the deer were being stalked by three hungry dhole – Indian wild dogs.
The hunt was masterful. The dogs fanned out and began to trot toward the deer displaying menace and intent, but also a practised nonchalance. The deer stood shoulder to shoulder with ears pricked and eyes alert. They knew the dogs were there but they were still a little way away and there was no need yet to run. Then suddenly, as the dogs narrowed the gap, an in-built survival instinct took hold, and the deer took to their heels. The dogs came together on the dirt road, dropped their heads, and ran as hard as they could at the pack of deer. A smaller and weaker deer at the back of the pack faltered momentarily, and the lead dog lunged at the trailing leg, narrowly missing. The deer herd split at this point and scampered in various directions into the brush. As quickly as it began the hunt was over. Masterful but on this occasion unsuccessful.”
Joe, our India specialist, recently explored the Nagarhole National Park in Southern India and was fortunate enough to encounter the endangered dhole in a heart-stopping chase to capture its prey. Perhaps not the most common of experiences one would expect to witness on a holiday to India, but truly unforgettable nonetheless.