It was a peak summer morning in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in May 2009 and the resident tigress and two of her female cubs were cooling off in the water at the Rajbehra Dam. Suddenly, one of the tigresses noticed something on a rock at the corner and both the sisters went off to investigate. They reappeared shortly, following a juvenile long-billed vulture, which seemed to have lost its way from its nest and incapacitated in some way. Threatened by the tigers, it tried to fly but only managed to flop down into the water. One of the tigresses then approached the vulture from the other side in a curious way. The vulture opened its beak wide in defence, hoping to put the tiger off, which it successfully did. Slowly, it started creeping towards the bank and after some time, climbed up the bank and disappeared into the bush.
Unusual Bedfellows: Long-billed Vulture and Tiger!
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Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
Although the vulnerability of the vulture and the playful curiosity of the tiger cubs were a stark contrast of childhoods, it was a bitter irony that both species, being critically endangered, face an uncertain future from the numerous odds stacked against them.