The name Kabini brings a big smile on my face and I am sure it’s the same with people who have visited this magical forest, which is a part of the Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka. It is a place which one would love to visit time and time again, especially a wildlife enthusiast and photographer like me.

The Kabini area is home to a large variety of wild animals. Black Panther, Tigers, Leopards and Elephants top the charts. However, it is also a safe haven for many birds from big raptors to smaller ones  like Eagles, Owls, Bee-eaters and reptiles like Snakes, Crocodiles, Monitor-Lizards and so on.

On a foggy morning in the month of October, I set out for my game drive by 6:30 am. The forest was filled with thick fog with very low visibility and I was barely able to see anything beyond 3-5 meters making it difficult to spot any wildlife. Early mornings are very crucial, especially to sight the Big Cats, as they prefer to move around at this hour before the temperature goes up. Like any other morning safari this time as well I was engrossed in searching for a Big Cat and had already spent close to an hour in the woods with no luck on my side.

By now the fog has started clearing up and visibility was better. I asked my driver friend to move in a particular direction where I thought I saw a raptor perched on a dead tree.

kabini

Photograph: Sheshadri Vasan

 

It was not very clear to the naked eyes and I took help of my camera to take a few shots. I quickly reviewed those 3-4 images and I was right, it was a raptor called The Crested Hawk-eagle. I could also see, not very clearly though, an uneven formation near the talons of the eagle and I asked my driver friend to take the jeep closer to the dead tree. And to my surprise, I could see a huge Monitor-lizard which was held very firmly by this big bird of prey.

kabini

Photograph: Sheshadri Vasan

 

I have seen Eagles feeding on prey many times, but this was something which I had never seen in my life. A huge bird taking down a prey equal to its size was something very special and rare. It was a natural history moment, which had unfolded in front me. Also, what impressed me was the calmness coupled with sheer focus of the bird. The powerful talons which were holding the huge prey and the killer looks of the bird were truly a delight to document though my camera.

I have been visiting the forests for more than a decade now and never come back disappointed as each time I have learnt and seen something new in nature and my connection with it gets deeper.