I have written a series of posts about the extraordinary bond that exists between a mother and her offspring in the wild. Most often this special bond is not visible to the casual observer, especially in the case of the deer family, as it is quite challenging to read any emotion into their faces. However, on rare occasions, we get to witness this special bond manifesting itself into raw courage and this almost always involves the prospect of death.

The Mother Sambar and a Wild Dog engaged in a duel!

The Mother Sambar and a Wild Dog engaged in a duel!

A few mornings ago, during the boat safari at Orange County – Kabini, I was lucky enough to bear witness to this special bond. The characters partaking in this unfolding drama were – a beautiful female Sambar, her bewildered fawn and a pack of delirious Wild Dogs.

The Sambar getting outnumbered.

The Sambar getting outnumbered.

From the inception of the incident, the sheer number of wild dogs gave them a secure advantage over the Sambar mother – who was fighting single-handedly. The feral pack successfully pulled down the calf despite the mother’s best efforts to ward them off. The climax of the event seemed pretty obvious to us onlookers, and I pondered over the fate of the fawn.

The resilient Sambar!

The resilient Sambar!

But by the time I got off the boat and reached the spot, there was a very different scene unfolding before my eyes. The mother Sambar was in no mood to back down and surrender the carcass of the fawn to the savage pack, and fought tooth and nail to keep them at bay. Now a determined pack of dogs are formidable predators and a female Sambar is fair game. However, despite these given facts, the Sambar mother endured a heroic fight to the finish.

Very rarely have I witnessed such raw courage, especially in what was a lost cause – as the Sambar fawn was already dead and no amount of gallantry was going to change that. But what this incident did change is my perception of the deer family, for behind those inscrutable faces, there lurks raw emotion like kind you’ve never seen before!