Back in December 2012, I was part of a photography tour to Valparai and Annamalai. Deep within the beautiful and enchanting Western Ghats of India, this was a tour organized by Kalyan Varma and Dilan Mandana. Around 2 pm, as we approached one of the forest guest house on the banks of the Pambar river, we heard alarm calls of a Sambar deer. The Sambar seemed to be very close to where we were, so we rushed in the direction from where the call came. We climbed in and out of six foot trenches and scrambled through thick bushes to see the Sambar which was giving out alarm calls.
Here is how that story went :
Through the thick bushes, we managed to see a Sambar mother and her fawn, in lightly deep and fast flowing water.
The fawn looked troubled, but the mother was looking at the other bank of the river.
Mother was fixated on a lone Dhole on the other bank, the main reason for the alarm calls.
Dholes usually hunt in packs and we were surprised to see this lone member. We waited in our cramped positions, to see if the other members of the pack would arrive. This was the shot of the dhole looking at us directly.
Sambar repeatedly stomped the ground, creating huge splashes. Stomping is a typical way of displaying a warning sign when they see a predator.
Sambar put herself between the Dhole and her fawn. Never losing sight of the Dhole.
But every now and then she would turn to check on her fawn as well.
You could clearly see that the Sambar thought of the Dhole as the main threat and hence did not let her guard down to help the fawn struggling in the water.
This whole scene went on for about 20-25 minutes.
Sambar kept her vigil on both the Dhole and her fawn, which luckily had found some shallow waters by then.
We were not sure how long this would go on. Then, suddenly the Dhole decided to leave.
Sambar climbed to the exact same spot where the Dhole was sitting and double checked to see if the predator had really left. She then turned back and went towards her fawn.
We could not see the Sambar and the fawn after this point, but we were pretty sure they both lived.
That is how the Sambar mother stood between her fawn and the lone Dhole and lived another day.