Sambar battles tigers, crocodiles for 24 hours
Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN 16 November 2009, 01:20am IST
NAGPUR: A full-grown sambar is chased by two tigers. It tries to save its life by entering the shallow waters of a lake, where it is stalked and attacked by a crocodile. The sambar successfully staves off both attackers for 24 hours before, struggling from exhaustion, it falls prey to the tigers the next morning.
This stunning natural drama, like the ‘Battle at Kruger’ at Kruger National Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2004 between a herd of Cape Buffalo, a small pride of lions, and two crocodiles, was witnessed by the 18 participants of an international course and some tourists on Friday at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). The international course, ‘Education as a tool for species conservation’, was focusing on tigers in India and has participants from Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
The participants reached Telia lake in TATR’s Moharli range during their field round at 6.45am. They first saw a full-grown sambar stag returning after quenching its thirst. A tigress was hiding in the tall grass, waiting for the sambar to come close, and started approaching it off a forest trail.
Sensing trouble, the sambar turned and saw the tigress right in front. The sambar took off to save its life with the tigress giving hot chase. Seeing no other option, the sambar chose to enter the Telia waters. The tigress had to stop the chase after the sambar entered the waters. But this was not the end of the sambar’s troubles. There were two crocodiles in the lake and they approached the sambar. The tigress had by then positioned herself at the western end of the lake. The sambar kept running around in the shallow waters as it tried to dodge the crocodiles for well over half-an-hour. The sambar had raised an alarm, but unfortunately for it, another tigress in a nearby compartment heard these calls and came rushing to the lake from the southern side.
It positioned herself in the tall grass towards the south, making the situation tougher for the sambar. At around 8.30am, the sambar decided to come out of water and try to escape. It had walked barely 50 metres to reach the tall grass when the first tigress attacked from the west and the second tigress also made an attempt from the south. However, the sambar luckily escaped the attacks and returned to the waters with a little injury on its hind legs.
No sooner did the sambar enter the waters, the crocodiles started approaching it again. Both the tigresses also resumed their original positions in the wait for the sambar. The animal was by now struggling a bit due to its injury and blood loss. At 10.30am, the sambar was literally limping when it made a third attempt to escape. The participants waited with bated breath as they thought this would be the last bid by the sambar to save its life. The moment the sambar left the water and reached the grass with great pains, the first tigress again charged the animal. To the surprise of everyone present, the sambar survived the third attack too and returned to the waters.
As the tourists were running out of time, they left the park. As soon as the after round of TATR started at 2pm, everybody rushed to check out the final outcome of the battle. To their surprise, the brave sambar was still in the water! They again checked at 5.30pm before leaving the reserve and to their surprise the sambar was still in the water. The crocodiles had by then apparently given up on the sambar, however the tigresses were still waiting for the kill. Some photographers, who waited for hours to see the end of the spectacle, said that the sambar attempted to escape a few more times. On Saturday, November 14, when the participants reached Telia lake at 6.30am, they saw the sambar had been finally grounded by the first tigress on the bank of the lake. The brave sambar seems to have lost the battle between life and death after resisting for almost 24 hours.