CEC, BNHS, Mumbai
My office in Mumbai is surrounded by deciduous forest, which is a contiguous part of Borivli National Park. I am privileged to observe variety of wildlife from the window
while working in the office. Summer is boom time especially when water scarcity brings wildlife closer to the waterhole created by us near the office. It was one of the summer evenings when I finished my day's work at about 7.30 p.m., started the scooter and
switched on the headlight. While moving the scooter, I heard a leaping movement near the water tank constructed close to the office, which is known as Conservation Education Centre (CEC) of Bombay Natural History Society. This tank being a favorite drinking
water source for wild animals during summer, I was curious to identify that moving object. When I turned the focus of scooter light towards the tank I observed a huge frog with a long, slender and moving object around it. My attempt to observe something in
the pitch dark made CEC watchmen curious and they came out with their duty torch. I parked the scooter and had a close look with the help of torchlight. I was amazed to see a bullfrog, resident of CEC tank in total control of a young cat snake (about one foot
long) . The mouth and tail of cat snake was free but the central portion was firmly gripped by the powerful jaws of bullfrog
The cat snake's desperate attempt to escape from the jaw only helped the frog tighten its grip. The desperate and awfully irritated cat snake turned back and revengefully
attacked the frog's back. However, the "Bull" would not budge.
While observing this uncommon behavior where predator had fallen prey to its own prey and perhaps praying for life, I realised the mistake of not keeping a film role
handy. But then nature freak friends in the close vicinity are always a boon. I called up Satish Amberkar, my friend and nature photographer, who resides just 10 minutes away from CEC. Well-equipped Satish landed within 15 minutes after the call and the photo
session began, which lasted for about 10 minutes before the frog jumped in to the tank and settled in the bottom. Although water was turbid we were able to observe the drama with the torch beam. The frog was still holding the helpless cat snake in a tight
grip and the snake was determined to escape. There was a long silence. 'Snake is perhaps counting its last breath' was Satish's reaction when we observed water bubbles which surfaced from the cat snake's mouth. After some time, the snake opened its jaw and
attacked the frog with a 'do or die' spirit only to stimulate the frog's "bullish" instinct. Within a moment the bullfrog grabbed the cat snake with the help of fore limbs and gulped it. After a minute the bullfrog vanished under the leaf litter accumulated
in the tank perhaps for a good night's sleep. It was 8.45 p.m.