In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve

In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve
Biju Prabhakar, the special secretary in Kerala government's social justice department, narrates his experience of taking pictures as wild dogs attacked a sambar deer at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
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Idukki: The forest would never disappoint someone who loves wildlife photography. It gifts you some unique experiences as the denizens of the animal kingdom engage in a daily fight for survival.

Biju Prabhakar, the special secretary in Kerala government's social justice department, narrates his experience of taking pictures as wild dogs attacked a sambar deer at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala's Idukki district.

I was taking photos at the tiger reserve, when suddenly a pack of Indian Wild Dogs appeared. They were chasing down a sambar deer (Rusa unicolor). By the time, I focussed my camera, they had forced the deer into the water.

In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve

There were about 15 dogs. Generally, 12-40 dogs would be part of one pack. It looked like a family of father, mother and their children. Their each move was cunning. Their move to chase down the deer and make it enter the water was a ploy. The only way a deer can defend itself from predators is by using its hind legs.

In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve

One knock and the predator would not likely get up and walk ever again. To prevent getting knocked down, the deer was chased into the water.

It was a fully grown deer. The dogs were not even tall as its legs. Their next task was to overpower the deer in the water. A gang of six-seven dogs too entered the water, and started biting it from the rear and front at once. The deer cried out in pain. Another pack waited on the banks to prevent it from escaping.

In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve

Their wily eyes also noticed me clicking away. The youngest among them then started observing the photographer. The others too observed in between.

Meanwhile, the battle on the water continued. The deer was visibly exhausted from the attack. The dogs too were tired and returned to the land. Then the dogs on the banks entered the water. They continued the attack and bit the deer on its head, ears and the back.

In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve

The deer's desperate attempts to escape from their jaws were increasingly becoming futile. During the fight that went on for nearly 1.5 hours, the pack of dogs was able to get the better of the deer thrice.

Some of the dogs got tired of the attack, and started tearing on to its flesh and eating the meat before it was dead. Then all of them dragged the deer back on to the land.

In photos: Dog pack hunts down a sambar deer at Periyar reserve

Even with a feast next to him, the youngest one who was observing the photographer did not move from its position.

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