If a friend were to tell you about spotting a striped predator, prowling in the undergrowth near the water bodies of Kabini, the mind would immediately go to the majestic tiger that calls these jungles home. But there is another who has earned his stripes for valour beyond the call of duty, and is as feared by his prey. Meet the courageous fighter par compare: the Stripe-necked Mongoose, the largest of the species in Asia. Most of us are familiar with the almost mythical battles between mongooses and snakes, but down here at Ground Zero, it’s an everyday reality. He’s a canny hunter of crabs, frogs, rodents and fowl, but they are plebian affairs- merely sideshows- when compared with the main spectacle: his epic battles with highly venomous snakes. Contrary to popular opinion, he isn’t immune to the venom, and could die if bitten. What stands him in good stead are his reflexes, ferocity and raw courage, as he darts in, feints and taunts his foe, almost like a matador does a raging bull. And when the snake, distracted by his rapidly moving fur, strikes, he’s just a blur and isn’t where he seemed to be, but is behind the befuddled reptile, sinking his teeth into the exposed neck. Speaking of necking, this battle hardened warrior must find romance highly amusing. For, if you hear high pitched giggles coming from the bushes, chances are that it’s our friend paying court to his lady love. Or perhaps, just perhaps, they’re only sharing a laugh about how he outwitted the serpent once again. Bragging rights in such encounters are, after all, almost always with the Stripe-necked Mongoose of Kabini.
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.