In a heartwarming series of photographs taken by Souvik Kundu, an unexpected encounter between a confused tiger and a baby deer at the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in India unfolds.
Contrary to what one might expect, the tiger chooses not to make a meal out of the deer but instead treats it as if it were one of its own cubs.
The mesmerizing moment was captured when the tiger playfully interacted with the tiny deer, jumping alongside it, nuzzling it affectionately, and even cradling it gently in its mouth.
Onlookers at the Maharashtra reserve were taken aback, anticipating a swift and brutal end for the spotted deer fawn at the hands of the massive feline.
To their astonishment, the two unlikely companions seemed to forge a friendship, with the tender tigress engaging in playful antics with the deer before eventually leaving it unharmed, allowing it to live another day.
Photographer Souvik described the encounter: “When she slowly emerged from cover, we were astonished to find she was playing with a hapless spotted deer fawn. The tigress seemed to be in a playful mood, jumping around in excitement.”
The adorable interaction continued for approximately 15 minutes before the tigress retreated, allowing the small deer to rest peacefully in the grass.
Souvik, a 35-year-old photographer from Mumbai, titled his captivating photographs of the event “The Benevolent Queen,” highlighting the tiger’s gentle and nurturing demeanor.
Souvik expressed his puzzlement, stating, “I’m still not sure why the tigress did not prey on the little deer when the chance presented itself and acted so unnaturally.
One probable explanation is that the tigress was searching for a mate, and her maternal instincts temporarily overcame her predatory nature. As a result, she may have mistaken the fawn for her own offspring.”
The Tadoba Andhari Reserve, spanning an expansive area of 241 square miles, is the largest national park in Maharashtra.
In a 2010 census, the reserve was found to be home to 43 tigers, further highlighting the significance of this extraordinary and heartening encounter between a tiger and a fawn.
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