During winters photographers throng to Tal Chhapar wild life sanctuary in Rajasthan to capture raptors in action and landscape with blackbuck. This blackbuck sanctuary is located 210Kms away from bustling Jaipur, the pink city of India in a small town of Chhapar in Churu District of Rajasthan. This field used to be a hunting ground of erstwhile maharajas of Bikaner, now it is the hunting ground of Raptors. Hunting ground of raptors? Then you should be curious to know what they hunt for. Let me unfold the story of INDIAN DESERT JIRDS (Meriones hurrianae) to you.
Tal Chhapar is an enlightening location for raptor lovers. You can see hunters like Steppe eagles, Tawny Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Laggar Falcon, Common Kestrel, Black Shouldered Kite, Short toed eagle and many more. Commonly these finest hunters or raptors kill their prey to satisfy their hunger. They usually feed on spiny tailed lizards and Indian desert Jirds. Though spiny tailed lizards are seen very often distinguished by its tail, we tend to ignore this little rodents due to their habitat in burrows beneath the sandy soil.
The Indian Desert Jird has a grey brown coat with yellowish belly, sized about 4-5inch with a long tail as described by my guide Atul from Raptor’s Inn Jirds prefer firm soil in dessert to build burrows to live in. The burrows are built near to each others and have different openings to enter and exit from. They mostly feed on small insects, little grasses and plant roots, while their death is hovering above their head.
Atul guided us to a flat ground next to Goshala, in Tal Chapar where the raptors hunt down the Jirds. The raptors fly high in the sky and targets to locate snakes, lizards and rodents to satisfy their hunger. After a long flight the the raptors hit ground to hunt on the Jirds. While speaking about the hunt we located a Laggar falcon return to branches of a tree with a kill.
We rushed quickly towards the tree to witness the end of day for a Desert Jird. The Laggar Falcon (male) made the kill and returned to the perch with the kill for feeding his pregnant female partner.
The female Laggar Falcon, which conceived eggs can not fly distant place to hunt for the feed. The male here seen to drop the kill on ground and allowed the female to satisfy her hunger.
Specific to the region of Rajasthan and Gujrat, though the Indian Desert Jirds have a life span of 1-2 Years, but they are the nutrition for the resident and visiting birds of prey. Here we have witnessed the end of a Jird, but beginning of a life in the form of yet to born Laggar Falcons. This is the circle of life, we all are made for each other, we all are required for each others. The raptors after the meal and taking rest for hours, take a flight again to search for another prey on the field.