Sher Bagh guests were observing kingfishers on their first forays of the day opposite the palace window at Rajbagh (Zone 3) when the first alarm call of a cheetal deer pierced the morning calm and was rapidly followed by the bronchial bellow, twice repeated, of a sambar from a nearby gorge.
An animated shifting of gears and a few minutes later we were moving towards the heights of Mandoop before we arrived at a gathering of sambar and cheetal deer, congregating above a dry nallah to our right. On closer observation the bloodied face of a jackal rose above the stony terrain of the nallah. We moved forward a metre to find a second jackal in the process of strangling a cheetal fawn, which as we observed it was still kicking the last breath of life against the ground, its neck firmly enclosed in the grip of the jackal’s jaws.
Surrounded as they were by a herd of curious sambar and aggrieved cheetal, the jackals were in a nervous state and once dropped the fawn to scurry for cover as a female sambar charged directly at them.
The cheetal on the other side of the nallah kept their distance and remained more tentative. In a demonstration of strong will and not to be deprived of their bag, the jackals soon returned to the dying fawn, approximately 4 months old, that barely held on to its life. This second attack resonated a greater sense of urgency, in the face of a hostile group of sambar and the pair began to bite off morsels from the struggling fawn.
Written by Yusuf Ansari
Photography by Adam Bannister