I spend a lot of time alone at the camp, these times I thoroughly enjoy learning about the ways of the jungle folk.
Tracking animals, following alarm calls and try to capture moments if conditions are apt.
But among all this I also long to be able to share these experiences with family too, so that they can also at first hand experience the thrill.
But again there are no assured lunches, but I do take them out for long walks explaining to them and allowing their senses to develop to get accustomed to the jungle.
On one such occasion, we were planning to go for our evening walk. After reaching the gate, we had an option of either taking a right or a left, both of which are on the forest road and go through dense undergrowth, the difference being the one on the right would take us to the village and the one on the left would go deeper inside the forest.
I decided to take the left route.
We must have walked around 500mtrs when I got a call from my naturalist and there was an urgency in his voice asking me which side did I take them for a walk.
I replied that I took them to the left, and then he exclaimed,
Sir... the leopard is sitting on the road to the village!
The statement had its desired effect!
...towards the gate!
The idea was to get the Scorpio out soon enough so that we could go there.
My family on the other hand just ran along with me albeit with fear!
But fate had other plans.
I was disappointed on having missed the opportunity, but my cook wasn't. He was returning from the village on his motorbike and had to stop right in his tracks upon seeing the cat.
Leopards are quite lenient with villagers and hardly react upon seeing them. He nonchalantly sauntered away from him.
And the villagers are least bothered to see them or to take pics and they keep seeing them on a regular basis, while we who are chasing them hardly sight any.
In the pursuit of cats, one is likely to experience their presence more than sighting them. This extremely thrilling and satisfying sport is a treat for the people who wish to understand leopards and their behavior.
Upon the near miss in the evening, we went about our evening activities and spent some good time in the Machan.
The next morning, at 10am as we were about to have our breakfast, the first alarm call came.
Khok... Khok....Khokorrrr, the alarm call of a Langur,
Unmistakable call of the Jungle and marked the definite presence of a Leopard.
At this time of the day, I wondered?
The call was coming from the gate, and I went to the gate to check where was the call coming from. Since the call seemed to come from close proximity, I did not take anyone else along with me.
But nothing would have prepared me to what I saw next...
The Langur was sitting bang opposite our gate and looking inside the property. It was clear, the source and reason of the Langurs alarm was inside the property, adjoining our camp is a natural nullah which is full during the monsoons and is a preferred way of commute for the denizens.
The leopard was most likely in this nullah, I concurred, and due to the constant alarms of the Langur which brought me out, its movement was arrested.
The alarms went on for a good 45mins and then it was gone. I even placed our cameras there to capture the movement when it would decide to leave, but nope, nothing.
The leopard was gone without giving us even a glimpse, that is the level of stealth it operates at.
A few days later, a feral Bull was killed right next to our fence and it became the epicenter of some unbelievable activity.
The first visitor
Indian Striped Hyena
The 2nd Visitor: A female Leopard
Final Visitor : Male Leopard