The Watchman


Amidst the tall grass, a tiger moved stealthily towards his prey. Inching closer and closer to the herd of deer who were busy grazing unaware of his presence. A loud piercing call broke the silence of the jungle. Then another call and another until it sounded like an orchestra.

The sound was a combination of a bark and clearing of the throat that caused the deer to freeze in fear and their alert buttons were switched on. Looking in all directions, they finally spotted the tiger crouched in the grass, motionless. A twitch of the tigers tail sent the deer into a frenzy and they galloped to safer ground.

Yet another opportunity missed, the tiger moved slowly out from hiding. From the tall tree above, the orchestra was still playing. The tiger looked up to see who had let the cat out of the bag. A group of langurs were looking back at the tiger not leaving his sight.

The watchman or should I say watchmen of the jungle had saved yet another that day. The Grey Langur also called the Hanuman Langur, occupying the tallest seats in the jungle (read trees), have the best view of what’s happening below. Keeping track of the predator movement, they sound the alarm bells when a tiger, leopard or wild dogs are spotted in the vicinity. Upon hearing the Langur, deer, sambar, even birds sound their calls. Everyone is wary of a predator lurking.

On some occasions, even a tall tree or high perch is not enough for the safety of the Langur. Leopards are known to hunt while swiftly climbing trees and treating themselves to an unlucky Langur. Even tigers sometimes get the better of the watchman.

In the image posted above, a Grey Langur looks warily as our vehicle approached it. Gorgeous lighting that evening set this image apart from the rest in my collection.

Image shot with Canon 500 f4 + 1D Mark IV

Published by

Sameer Jain (Kittu)

Way before I started photography, I heard the song Lose Yourself by Eminem, and the starting line has stuck with me ever since. It goes- “If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted would you capture it or just let it slip?” This line is a constant reminder and the closest description of what I feel when I’m out on a safari or walking/trekking photographing birds. Fondly known as Kittu, I’ve been a resident of Mudumalai for three decades. I manage and run Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse; a family run resort near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. For as long as my memory goes, I have been an ardent lover of wildlife. Growing up on tea estates and Forest Hills, has played an active role in nurturing my love for nature and wildlife. During school holidays at Forest Hills, I made full use of safari and trekking opportunities that came my way. In 2005, I decided to pursue photography with a Canon film SLR and in 2007, I went digital. The love of wildlife has taken me to various national parks both in India (Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Tadoba, Kaziranga to name a few) and other esteemed forest reserves such as Masai Mara (Kenya). While I keenly keep a track of birding activity at home (Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse), one might just bump into me during a safari at my favourite forest reserve i.e. the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

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