The Mriga and the Chitrak in Chitwan

Long time back a Deer named Mriga used to live in the jungle of Chitwan. He thought himself to be wise but for the other denizens of the jungle, he was reckless. Whenever he crossed the forest, everyone who saw him used to call him Foolish Mriga because Mriga wanted to befriend Chitrak the fierce Leopard of the jungle.

If Chitrak would become his companion Mriga would not only be become famous but also Chitrak could protect him from all the predators, especially the king of the jungle, the Tiger, thought Mriga. That’s why the other inhabitants found Mriga harum-scarum.  “How could Mriga be so foolish to forget that Leopard Chitrak was no less feral than the Tiger and could easily make Mriga his Dinner?” said the other deer of his herd.

So one day our wise Mriga decided to meet Chitrak and gave way to his thought. He started walking towards Chitrak’s Tree. The Tree got its name as Chitrak’s Tree because Chitrak had resided there and every time he used to kill an animal he would drag it and would climb the tree to safely relish upon its meal.

Chitrak was secretive but sly. He was agile, could camouflage and was nimble-footed. He was nocturnal and a good hunter. He was strong, could jump and leap swiftly. Naïve or rather foolish Mriga mistook Chitrak for a fragile animal and he had to pay the price for his foolishness and ignorance. As soon as Chitrak saw Mriga coming towards the tree, his predator instincts triggered him and he leapt on the deer. As anticipated by other animals, Mriga lost his life since he had forgotten the lesson that Leopard and Deer do not stroll together.

Dead Deer

Barahi Jungle Lodge situated in Chitwan National Park has recently witnessed the hunting story of Chitrak and Mriga. Last Thursday, in the dead silence of the jungle which was only interrupted by the sounds of the cicadas and the oooooo.. ooooo… of the owls, a deer was running for his life. It was somewhere between the mid-night and early morning, when the jungle came to life with the creaking of the leaves and twigs. A tawny shaded body was chasing the deer and two bright eyes sparkled in the dark.

Was it a tawny coat with black stripes or black spots?

It was hard to find out in inky dark night. The tawny coloured being leapt on the deer and once again the jungle retrieved in its slumber. The next morning when the villagers arrived their Banana Farm where the entire episode happened, they found the carcass of the deer.

There were curious whispers that a tiger might have killed the deer but finally the villagers and the naturalists through the help of canine marks on deer’s carcass and pugmarks figured out that the Mriga (Deer) was killed by Chitrak (Leopard). A Machan is built quite close to the spot of incident. Machans are used by farmers to keep an eye on the wild animals so that they can protect their crops. Even the farmer who slept there the night of the incident was unaware of the entire episode since Leopards are too swift in killing their prey and then they suddenly vanish in the dense jungles. That’s why they have earned the name ‘ghosts of the jungle.’

The Banana Farm is very close to the Barahi Jungle Lodge hardly at a distance of 200 m. The beautiful Lodge is situated at the edge of the Rapti River. Established into the lap of nature, this Lodge is surrounded with lush greenery on one side and water on the other.

Courtesy : Malvika Verma

Read more about ‘leopards': Finding Leopards in the Tiger Country

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