Mammals

Just good friends? Canis aureus

The hot season is here. Water and comfort are getting harder to find, especially for we human interlopers in the forest. I had decided to have a quick trip out to try out the new Nikon D7100 for my macro shooting. Rumours were rife that the butterflies had started their aggregations and puddling as they do at this time of year. So I headed off to find a secluded spot that I could try and photograph them at. Alas the butterfly aggregations had not really started yet except for a particular species of skipper. What to do?

It was hot in the sun. It was dry underfoot in the forest. I had walked a long way. A faint breeze picked up in the river bed. There was the faint sound of water trickling along the rocky river bed although the river was now close to ceasing to flow. I found a pleasant spot sheltered from the sun's glare. I would relax. No photography, just a nice relax and a doze. A day of quiet reflection and pondering the mysteries of life. It is perhaps my favourite thing to do in the forest, to sit, to relax, to doze, to ponder.

I nodded off for a while, just a while. When I awoke I was staring at a magnificient male sambar stag (Rusa unicolor) standing on the edge of the river clearing. His steps were tentative but he stood proud nevertheless.

 

 Sambar Stag

A fully grown Sambar Stag enters the river clearing. 

He settled into a rocky pool that had been left by the receding river. Seeming to enjoy the cool respite from the heat of the day. He sat, he relaxed, he dosed, I dare say he pondered. There we both sat, two large aging males sharing a river bank. One wearing his crown of antlers, one a green cotton jungle hat. Sharing a moment of tranquility from our otherwise stressful lives.

All was peaceful but then to his right I saw a movement. Small and fast. 

An asiatic jackal (Canis aureus) had appeared from out of the forest and was running directly at the sambar. Straight at him. My body tensed, I grabbed hold of my camera. What was about to happen? He continued his run towards the mighty sambar. He slipped and fell into the water, but recovered in an instant and was again continuing on his course. I pressed the shutter. 

Whatever was going to transpire was imminent. The jackal continued on his course with hesitation. The giant sambar did not flinch. It was happening now. And then, the jackal slowed and continued straight past him! He literally past the stag within inches. Neither of them showing any cause for concern. No reaction whatsoever.

I pondered this later. Of course, a sambar is not prey for the jackal which is omnivorous and forages mainly, also eating small mammals, birds and reptiles. This was not my surprise, my surprise was the total lack of reaction from either of them as to the other's presence. Not even a flinch. The only reasonable conclusion I can guess at is that both animals regulary encounter each other within their shared territory. What else could it be?

 sambar jackal conflict

The incident that was not. Just good friends? 

 thailand sambar stag jackal.

The closeness of their passing is quite clear in this photograph. Inches.

 

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"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." > Edward O. Wilson

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