Langurs and Birds (Bandipur Stories – 3)

As we drove along on the mud-paths inside the forest, we noticed Langurs on the sides. There are very few stops for them. Only those who are new to the forests get excited about them. The only time we stop is when they sit on the road and stage a rasta roko. The cameras then come out and a few snaps are shot. They make for good photos when they are like that. Other times they tend to jump up trees and you only see silhouettes.

This time, I noticed something strange. There were no Langur kids. There were only adults and sub-adults clinging to trees. Any langur group usually has a kid or two clinging to its mother. We passed group after group, with no sign of a recent birth. Was it the drought? Or was it timing? Did Langurs not have children during the Winter? The driver had no clue, but he felt it was less to do with the drought than the Winter.

The first morning though, as we drove through empty forest roads, on what was the most eventless safari of the four, we finally came across a group which had a young one. The sun had just come out and it was warming the air and dispensing the fog. The child was sitting by itself, saw the jeep standing below and ran up to its mother’s outstretched arms.
Langurs - mother and child

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The langurs

Chitals and Langurs are among the first you see at the start of any safari in the South. The naturalist and the driver usually dismiss them with a “Common”, “We’ll see a lot more of them later”. That later is usually reserved for the time when the engine is killed and you’re waiting for a big cat in a frequented spot, or when you’re almost at the end of the safari and there isn’t any chance of a big one. Most jump up the trees, giving you a tree full of langurs at different branches. Some hang around on dead branches eyeing you or looking around bored. These latter are the ones that interest me the most. They have expressive faces which are difficult to capture because of the black face in the middle of that grey fur. But almost every time I do manage to capture at least one of them in an interesting pose.

After an eventless morning driving around the Nagarahole reserve near Kabini, with only Sambhar deer as the interesting mammals, we reached a patch at the fag end where three langurs were digging into the ground. “Salt licks” announced the naturalist. After capturing those we drove on further and stopped near another group. There was one who sat there with her child, wary of us, but not looking directly. After a few seconds, she seemed to have decided that we were not threats and her eyes went all over the place. But her little one continued to look at the jeep. This capture happened at that time. Was pleasantly surprised to note that the little one was looking straight at my lens in one. In the other, the Mother is looking straight up and the kid gazing away, which combined with the log on which they were sitting, made for a nice composition.

Click on the pics to enlarge in the viewer.