The Hunter And The Hunted
It’s one of the greatest spectacles that the wild has to offer… a hunter using its predatory instincts, honed by evolution, in order to survive another day. A seemingly somnolent crocodile erupts into a thrashing fury, emerging with an egret in its jaws. The Pied Kingfisher hovers patiently, waiting for the right instant to dive on its unsuspecting prey. And perhaps the least ‘hunter-like’ of them all, the drosera, waiting interminably for some luckless insect to be drawn to its glittering surface.
End of the Road
Photo: S. Thippeswamy.
This image of a crocodile snapping up an egret was photographed in the Ranganathitoo Bird Sanctuary near Mysore. Such life-and-death struggles are everyday happenings in the wild where the rule is to hunt or be hunted. Crocodiles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have learned to hunt using stealth and speed.
Photo: Sali Palode.
Shot in the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, this image graphically illustrates the fact that the White-breasted Kingfisher is the least fish-dependent of all kingfishers. The two birds seen here could be taking part in an ancient ritual with the male displaying its hunting skills to first impress and then mate with the female.
Lion with Kill
Photo: Manish Trivedi.
Lions once roamed over much of northern and central India, till hunting and the loss of the open forests that they inhabited led to their extinction from all but one relic forest in Gir, Saurashtra, Gujarat. Inbreeding and disease threaten the future of these magnificent cats and could force them to follow the Asiatic cheetah to extinction.
The Deadly Trap
Photo: S.K. Tiwari.
This butterfly has fallen prey to the enticing glitter of the insectivorous drosera plant. The sticky liquid traps insects attracted to the plant in search of nectar, which is actually a digestive juice produced by the plant. Inexorably, the insect’s edible body parts will be gradually broken down and the nutrients absorbed by the plant.
Photo: S. Anil Kumar.
Locked in mortal combat, this green vine snake has gotten the better of the trinket snake in the famous Silent Valley National Park, Kerala. Slated for submergence by a hydroelectric project in the 1970s, scientists, conservationists, poets, thinkers and opinion makers prevailed upon the government to preserve the valley for future generations. But new threats now look large over this exquisite rainforest and its bewildering diversity of life.
Bird in the Mouth
Photo: R.G. Srikantha.
The photographer was observing a peahen with three young ones in Sariska when, in a flash, this jackal leaped onto the road and snapped up one of the chicks. The others flew to safety atop a nearby tree, squawking in distress. Unfazed, the jackal finished its morning meal at leisure, in full sight of the observers.
The Hovering Hunter
Photo: R.G. Srikantha.
Pied Kingfishers are easily identified by their mottled black-and-white colours and their characteristic hovering flight above water bodies. From this vantage point, they scan the waters for potential prey. Once a suitable candidate is sighted, the bird will dive vertically in, snatch its prey and power its way back into the air.
Photo: Dr. Vijay H. Lapsia.
Shot in the Kanha Tiger Reserve, such images highlight the bulk of the forest saga that most tourists miss completely. These ‘lesser’ life-forms are possibly more intrinsic to the ecology of their forest than the mega-fauna in whose name the forest is protected.
Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXIII. NO. 2, April 2003.