When the mighty beats a hasty retreat
   Date :19-May-2024

By Rahul Dixit :
EVEN the most powerful have their own fears. Their threat is not always from the equal ones… sometimes the fragile ones can also vent out an untold ferocity that makes the mighty look embarrassingly meek. The jungles are witness to this unwritten law where sometimes the hunter becomes the target for the confronted victim. What goes on display in such a scenario is the hasty retreat of the mighty. After all it’s a question of survival! One such drama unfolded at the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in the Sillari range the other day. It was a rare show where the mighty leopard was running for its life, chased by a large, savage pack of wild dogs. The early morning safari visitors to PTR were trying their luck to sight a tiger when out of nowhere, from the camouflage of trees and rocks, came a sudden movement. A pack of brown-red dogs was surging behind the leopard, turning the normal jungle scene on its head.
The gallop of the leopard was almost being matched by the dogs that looked totally consumed by vengeance. Foresters with the lucky few visitors attributed the chase to the leopard’s misadventure the previous day when it devoured a puppy from the pack. The dogs were clearly on a revenge mission. Within seconds, the leaping dogs were right behind the leopard before it used its skill to immediately climb a nearby tree. The chase came to an abrupt stop but the dogs were in no mood to relent. As the frightened leopard clung on to a branch of the tree, the pack dispersed and took vantage positions around the tree to deny the feline any chance to climb down and flee. A long vigil started for the dogs, the leopard, and also the flock of visitors eager to see the next move from the wild.
The pack looked totally determined to punish the culprit. The dogs were not even bothered by the presence of humans trying to catch the drama in their cellphones. They persisted with the vigil as the leopard was forced to stay put on the tree branch. Suspense was on at its full throttle. There was no movement from both sides. And then suddenly the dogs seemed to have relented as one by one they started moving to the upper side of the hillock. It was a chance for the tourists to have a good sighting of the spotted feline. And it climbed down soon, seemingly feeling victorious for defying a certain death. But the drama was not over yet. As the leopard started strolling to the other side of the hill, a wild dog leapt out with its full might from the bushes. A violent clash looked on cards but this time the mighty was too meek to even put up a fight. Another chase ensued and the leopard was yet again lucky to find a tree at close proximity. It climbed up within seconds and perched itself on a strong branch. And, the wait continued for both -- the hunters and the target. For the lucky few, who were witness to the hour-long drama, it was another lesson from the jungle – Never underestimate the lesser ones.