In the wintry month of December a few years ago, we had been to the Gir Forest National Park – home to the last surviving members of the magnificent Asiatic Lion.
The park is a beautiful place and we were lucky to spot lions multiple times in the few days we were there. The flora and fauna of the park are rich and diverse and home to several species of birds. In fact, the official guide we had hired was a very good bird-spotter, was simultaneously referring to a book on bird species by Salim Ali, told us that even if the park had no lions, it would probably be a national park just because it had so many species of birds among other species of animals.
During our stay there, we had heard several stories of not only how majestic the lions were, but also how they would not harm anyone unless provoked. At the farmhouse where we were staying, we were shown a video by one of the persons working there. The video showed him on his motorbike crossing paths with a lion. The lion took a deviation into the forest, crossed the bike and rejoined farther down the road! We were a bit in disbelief before we saw the video, but then were simply amazed at the nature of this wonderful animal.
The very next day, we saw the following sequence of events.
A lion was basking in the sun, maybe in a state of light sleep, when an Egret-like bird came into the scene and hopped merrily towards the lion. Apologies for the shaky photograph – We were using this particular camera for the first time and the event had unfolded very quickly.
The Lion ignored it for a few seconds and the bird didn’t stop. Sensing this, the lion woke up and with superb swiftness, put a paw on the bird and trapped it.
In that position, it held him – not hurting him too much and sniffing it. The bird struggled around, now obviously scared and looked up pleadingly and apologetically at the lion.
On hearing some of these noises, a second lion walked out from under the shadows of a tree nearby and came around and sniffed the bird too. At this point, we thought it was curtains for the bird.
But suddenly, the bird was free and flying off.
Our guide said, the lions had eaten in the night, were not hungry so soon and were just playing with the bird.
What do you think?