I've kept the best things for last.
The highlight of the entire trip to Periyar Tiger Reserve is without doubt the sighting of several Indian Wild Dogs, also called Dholes. These canines were feasting on a fresh wild sambar on the bank of the lake.
I wasn't expecting this during the ride. We didn't spot this group of Dholes on the way into the lake (it's a to and fro course), but only on the way back. That meant one thing- these Dholes had attacked and killed the sambar deer as we were travelling deeper into the lake.
As our boat drew closer to the scene, most of the dogs fled further up the bank. They are known to be fearful of humans.
There was, however, this particular daring individual who stood his spot, not letting go of his precious meal.
He looks up at us, and then continues feasting. As you can see, the water around the sambar had become bloody red.
The deer is about thrice the size of the dhole, but since these dogs hunt in packs, they are bold enough to attack and overpower large and dangerous animals such as wild boars, water buffaloes and even tigers.
Dholes are classed as endangered by the IUCN, due to ongoing habitat loss, depletion of its prey base, competition from other predators and possibly diseases from domestic dogs. I could consider myself lucky to have spotted a pack in action.