There are many marvelous mammals to observe on safari in India. One of my finest memories from one of India’s Tiger Reserves, seeing a Sloth Bear, early one morning, lope across an open field, into the woods. On this trip, Asian deer were new to me, and alarm calls of the Barking Deer stand out as exceptionally memorable – perhaps because they pointed us to Tigers. Seeing Tigers on several days was a thrill, and on our last journey, we found their smaller cousins, Leopards, on four occasions. But I’m canid fan, so seeing a group of Dholes, (Indian Wild Dogs) was a highlight even beyond the Tigers (which were, totally amazing!).
I had seen Wild Dogs in Africa and this one is a different species, but their antics were much the same. Our jeep, with keen-eyed guide Avi Sarkel at the helm, took a quiet road as we all fanned out from that morning’s Tiger spotting. He stopped dead in the track, and not far ahead, were belly-full, satiated Wild Dogs. It was still cool, and the young ones were restless, frisky, wanting some action. The older ones wanted rest and no part of that. Each had unique markings on the face and ears. We had them all to ourselves for about twenty minutes until some other jeeps arrived. The contrast in India of being inside a reserve or park, and outside with either village or urban life, is quite remarkable. That day in the jeep, parked next to these rare mammals, we were in the heart of a wild realm. Wonderful!