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Sambar for the Carnivorous Soul

Sambar Deer, Kabini -

Tigers must definitely have South Indian sensibilities. For, their favourite meal is the Sambar, a staple of every self-respecting South Indian kitchen. But while the original Sambar is a soupy lentil concoction, the dish featured here is a large serving of meat on the hoof. The Sambar, featured above, definitely boasts more Deer per Deer, and is perhaps a reason why the Kabini area hosts one of the largest populations of Tigers in the world. The largest species of Deer in South East Asia, prime specimens may stand above 5 feet at the shoulder and weigh above 1000 pounds. With a natural affinity for water, they can often be seen swimming, submerged till the neck. No wonder then, the mugger crocodiles infesting these parts have also developed an affinity for Sambar, making it a non-discriminating delicacy that whets appetites both on land and water. Its position in the food chain apart, this deer is a thing of rare beauty and grace, and often travels with a personal groomer to stay healthy. The Mynah in this image is not there just to make a pretty picture. Her job is to keep the Sambar’s skin healthy by protecting it from parasitic insects including those that infest its ‘sore spot’, a small patch of raw skin on the throat, oozing with blood-red glandular fluid during rutting season. While they often travel in small herds, males become solitary during the rut, and aggressively defend their territory. They woo their women with vocal and olfactory displays, and will fight off any competing male. In the midst of all the wooing, it isn’t improbable to think that the bushes around may well contain crouching tigers preferring to remain hidden dragons… praying for a successful courtship… for it’s also in their interests to wait for the next edition of ‘Sambar for the Soul’.



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