Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spots Galore

Spotted Deer or Cheetal as they are more commonly called can be found in such large numbers at Wayanad , Mudmalai , Bandipur and Nagarhole Sanctuaries. Of all my trips , this has been the most memorable one for quite a few reasons. One among them is the spotted deer. I have had such a great sight of these animals. While at Bandipur , around 7.30pm we got onto a meadow, which must have been around 25-30 acres in size. Around the pheripherry of the meadow were shrubs and trees. Normally deer and other such herbivores come onto the meadows in the forest during night , for fear of predators. So it is not unusual to go such a place and sight bisons , deer or elephants. But boy, was i unprepared for this !! After walking a few metres into the meadows , we came to a halt and switched on our hand held torches. All of us switched on our torches and pointed them at the same direction. The forest right in front of us lit up like magic. There were hundreds and hundreds of double lights , in a 180 degree arc around us. It was a scene straight from the celluloid world. It was like watching Bombay's Marine Drive/ Queen's necklace from the air. I am at a loss of words to describe any better. The double lit lights which i talked about were the eyes of the Cheetal. The meadow had become a congregation of sorts for a huge population of Cheetal of various herds. Nudged on by the Forester who accompanied us , we swayed our torches across the meadow, creating confusion among the various herds. Wow! The animals were running away from the light, but at the same time were reluctant to leave the meadow. Their run across the meadow looked like a huge plane / jumbo jumbo jet taxiing down the runway. Unfortunately i was not equipped to take night shots. It would have better yet if we were carrying LED torches along with us. We started counting the eye pairs and abandoned counting at 512 odd.

The Cheetal is the most prominent deer in India. The males grow antlers on an annual basis. The males shed their antlers and within a month or two , they grow new ones. The new growth is normally soft and looks like velvet. The antlers are hard and solid. The antlers are primarily used for combat during mating season. Nothing lethal about it. I have had the pleasure of holding a full grown , shed antler. Let me tell you it weighs quite heavy. Wonder how these fellows carry them as head gear.

Scientific Info
Height : Around 3 feet at shoulder
Weight : About 75 - 80 kgs.
Colour : Dark Brown to Reddish Brown with white spots


Gaurav Misra said...

I can imagine the sight! Must have been wonderful. Which season was this in?

Gaurav Misra said...

BTW, any pictures of it?