Few hours with a gaur calf
I was about to leave the base camp at Valparai when few people came to the door and called out. They all spoke excitedly and it took me a while to realize that they had a gaur calf with them! The calf had been spotted all by itself close to the lines and they decided to bring it over as they did not know what to do with it.
The calf was giving out feeble calls and looked weak. The blood stain on its leg was dry. It seemed to be a few days old. A small group of people had gathered. Some wanted to feed it milk and the others were stroking to comfort it. The calf appeared stressed, lost and confused.
It tried to take shelter in the tea bush. I requested the people to move away and let the calf be and not stress it more to which they readily agreed.
We decided to leave the calf in the tea close to the bush but the calf began to follow us. I went back and knelt down in the tea close to the bush. It followed me and then sat back in the shade of the tea. It would rest only if someone sat by its side.
This happened twice. I had to go to town on some work and Jegan took over. He began to walk with the calf everywhere it went.
Meanwhile, while consulting with a veterinarian friend of ours, we were asked to do some basics like, what type of milk needs to be given and using a warm gunny sack to rub the calf if it was a just born.
There was a dilemma. Should we interfere? Even if we did, to what extent? On one side, there were the people who wanted to feed it till it was full, bring it back to good health and then reunite it with its herd. Some felt we should not interfere and let nature take its course.
I was caught between the two. I would like to ensure the calf is doing good and lives with its herd. I also understand that birth and death is a part of nature and we should not meddle with that. There is no single solution to this.
Stella followed the calf till it reached the edge of a forest bordering the tea. Now that it was away from the crowd, it seemed more relaxed and was actively running around. The last was when it crossed tea and climbed up to disappear into the forest. The forest department deployed a watcher to keep an eye on it. When I returned to the spot there was no trace of the little calf. Has it joined the herd or is it still alone? No one knows the answer.
Here is a video I shot on 1-Jan-2012 of a herd crossing the road with their calves.
All the images were shot with an Iphone. Really handy when you dont have your DSLR along.