Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
Visitors to wildlife reserves can sometimes watch fascinating glimpses of animal behaviour like this. However we must never forget that the animal abundance we see in some of our reserves is because of the blood, sweat and tears shed by legions of unsung forest department officials and staff over decades. Without such sustained protection, even seeing a few deer during an entire day spent in the forest might be difficult!
We came across a pack of 18 dholes or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) at Bandipur National Park. The pack was getting ready to attack an elephant herd with two calves. After a few attempts, the dholes moved on. A few minutes later, we heard the call of a gaur and moved forward. In an open area, we saw the dholes attacking a gaur calf while the mother tried to protect it.
As the cries of the calf and the calls of the dholes filled the air, the attack gained momentum. The female gaur head butted the dholes and tried to keep them away from the calf. As a dhole tried to bite the calf, the calf moved forward and suddenly, the female gaur had flung her own calf into the air. It looked like the calf was dead. After a while, the calf stood up but the wild dogs were relentless. They would take a nip of the calf from different directions. Eventually the calf collapsed. The female gaur continued to fight the dholes and protect the dead calf but eventually decided to move away.
We captured the entire sequence on video, which can be viewed here on YouTube.