"As long as they can see the tiger, there can be no ambush".
-Sir David Attenborough
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is to witness a tiger chase spotted deer in the Ramganga riverbed. It was an incredibly lucky break for us.
Even though it was our third day at the Corbett, we were just as excited about the day ahead as if it were our first. Around seven in the morning, we set out for the Sambar road in the renowned Dhikala zone of Jim Corbett national park.
As you soak in the fresh air, you hear countless calls of nature... birds' tweets, the sway of trees to & fro, whistling wind, screech & scream of langurs, elephant's trumpet, and bees buzzing around.
Despite being fairly overcast while we drove early, our guide, adding to his experience swiftly spotted a tiger near the sambar pathway a few minutes after we embarked safari. Tiptoeing at the edge of Ramganga, this tiger walked below into bushes alongside our trail. Looking through the bushes as much as possible, we finally got a peek at her. Reliving by her presence, we planned on waiting for this big cat until she gets back on track. It was almost 9.30 am and we had waited for approx 2 hrs. At a distance, we noticed a chital approaching the very location where this tigress commenced walking.
As this chital walked closer and closer, our hearts pounded as we sensed & hoped to witness some activity. This deer was completely unaware of the tiger residing in the ambush at a slope next to our safari jeep and it kept walking towards the tiger. Little did the deer know that a predator was silently stalking it from the shadows. Deer senses some risk and jumps off the other side of the river. The tiger had been watching the deer for some time, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It sprang from the bushes, swam through the river slowly, and stalked the chital. Its powerful muscles propelled it at breakneck speed toward the deer. The deer fled in fear, but the tiger was equally quick. It quickly bridged the gap. Within seconds, the deer, followed by the tigress, jumped into the river in complete panic. The deer managed to keep the gap open and eventually ran away, disappearing in the dense fog. The tigress sat down and kept looking in the same direction where the deer disappeared. It was heartening to see an unsuccessful hunt attempt by this young tigress.
The thrill of the chase was incredible, and I felt like I was living in a scene straight out of an adventure movie.
(browse the gallery below for the full photo story.)