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In the afternoon shade, I sat on a fallen tree trunk by the river near Camp Nles Mamse, looking for animals to photograph. I observed some monkeys at play and small, colourful birds darting around the bushes and trees. The Kehje Sewen Forest, as always, was alive with the energy and amazing sights that have long captured my imagination.

Suddenly, a raspy sound came from the area behind me. I turned to find out what it was, but didn't see anything that could have been the source of the noise. As I moved around to take a closer look, I spotted a large monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) fighting with a python (Reticulatus phython)! The two were engaged in a fierce tussle. The snake's body twisted and turned with agility and flexibility, in an attempt to escape its predator. The monitor lizard's chances of winning such a fight would be determined by its ability to bite the python’s head as quickly as possible. They both paused for a moment before the monitor lizard targeted the python’s head.

Varanus salvator (Photo credit: Fathur)

Varanus salvator vs Reticulatus phython (Photo credit: Fathur)

The situation became even more intense, with the python fiercely resisting the monitor lizard’s jaws by quickly coiling its body around the lizard's neck. Pythons are known for their strong coil action and tight squeeze that suffocates their prey. The monitor lizard furiously shook its head to try and free its neck from the coil trap. I quickly grabbed my camera and pointed it toward the two reptiles.

However, the monitor lizard and python suddenly became aware of their human audience, and the fight abruptly came to an end. The two released their grip on each other and scuttled off toward the riverbank. Perhaps they were moving their bout off to continue away from prying eyes, uninterrupted. 

It’s hard to say who the ultimate champion would have been in this match. We may never know the outcome, but we do know this: In the forest, only the strongest will survive!

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