The fearless brown mongoose

A typical mongoose skulks in shadows. It will refuse to meet your eyes, and will run off into a thicket if, by chance, it does. As a result I have very few photos of mongoose. I had taken a photo of one from hiding fifteen years back in my mother’s garden. What I remember most clearly about it was its pink nose. When I saw the mongoose which you can see in the photo, the first thing I noticed was the distinctly brown nose. Although the animal is grizzled, its coat definitely has more brown than that of the widespread Indian grey mongoose. But what I found extremely surprising is that it did not seek the shadows under the bushes.

I found its fearlessness absolutely fascinating. After taking a meandering path over fifty meters of exposed territory, it sat in the open and began to scratch itself. That gave me the opportunity to take the photo which you can see above. I love the look of silly bliss on its face, but more importantly, I managed to see that its feet are black. This nails the identification as Herpestes fuscus, the Indian brown mongoose.

On the other hand, this makes the sighting extremely anomalous. The species is supposed to be nocturnal. This sighting was made in the open area just behind the cafeteria in Eravikulam National Park. This is disturbed land: a sliver of vegetation between tea estates. We were told by one of the forest guards that a band of wild dogs had just passed through this stretch of forest. Was the lack of shyness and the fact that it was about at 10:30 in the morning an indication that it had been disturbed in some way? I wonder.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

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