There is a general expression which says, “Kabini never disappoints". Don’t know how many will agree with that, though :-) May be true to a certain extent, if one goes there with, not just the two biggies, a Tiger or a Leopard, in mind ;-) Kabini, definitely has a lot of surprises in store for a nature lover.
Our afternoon safari had begun and we entered the forests of Kabini. A few minutes into it, we started hearing strong alarm calls. The calls were persistent. So, we decided to head towards them. On reaching the spot, we saw that a small herd of spotted deer, were looking at something among the bushes and vocalising vigorously. We thought that it might be a leopard and as we were scanning through, looking for any kind of movement, our driver immediately sprang up, to say that it wasn’t a leopard, rather, it was a Python and that it had caught a Langur !!
It was an Indian Rock Python, one of the largest non-venomous snakes in South Asia, growing to lengths of 8-10 ft. They are very much capable of taking down and swallowing large prey, many times their own size. Not very long back, in Bandipur, one had hunted a deer fawn. Here, it was a Gray or a Hanuman Langur.
Albeit being a great natural history moment, that we were an audience to, this was a sighting, that stunned, scared, and saddened me, all at the same time !!
The python seemed to have caught the langur just a few minutes before we arrived at the spot. It had, as all constrictors do, killed the langur, by suffocating it and started the process of swallowing. The highly flexible and powerful jaws of the python had opened wide and its muscles were aiding them to work their way through the langur’s body. All the while, the unfortunate prey’s body was held tight in the enormous coil of the snake.
Just watching the sheer massiveness of the snake and its body, made of nothing but pure muscle, sent jitters through me. My mind started to wonder as to how the langur could have come by this fate. Probably, something like this might have transcended. The langur, as they commonly do, might have been sitting on one of the rocks, either feeding or just playing around, completely oblivious of the danger lurking nearby. The python, lying close by, would have sensed the langur’s presence, a potential prey, and with one lash forward, would have caught it. Once in the grasp of the python, the langur would have had, absolutely no chance of an escape!
As we sat there watching, the python was busy finishing up its meal. Slowly and steadily, pushing through the body of the langur, as lesser and lesser of the prey remained outside of the python’s huge stomach.
Finally, it was all over. The python was done with its kill and with it’s belly full, started moving away, re-adjusting its jaws.
As amazing as this moment was, it had a very humbling feeling as well ! The absolute unpredictability of life in nature, be it of the unfortunate langur’s in this case or ours in general, is just inevitable. In the interim, why on earth, do we bring our big egos into play, I wonder !!