A look to kill (Panthera pardus fusca)   6 comments

A look to kill (Panthera pardus fusca)

After a couple of busy months, it was time for me to head southwards – towards a beautiful countryside resort on the outskirts of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. I had heard a lot about the hospitality provided to guests at the Orange County Resorts, Kabini and I was not disappointed. Having enjoyed 5 star luxury across Asia, US and Europe, I can safely rate this as the best hospitality that I have ever experienced. The resort may not be the most modern in terms of its infrastructure but the sheer desire of the staff to be helpful combined with an excellent selection of mouth watering cuisines, sets the Orange County Kabini apart.

The trip was memorable from another standpoint as well because the people accompanying me were my parents. The three of us were out on a trip, by ourselves, after nearly a gap of twenty five years. The last time we did it I was still in school! Though we have gone out together since then but it was always in the company of someone or the other – be it my sisters or my wife or my children etc. But this time it was just the three of us after twenty five years.

And to add to the experience, this young leopard showed up. Our resort was located by the side of the backwaters of the Kabini reservoir, which in turn adjoins the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. Being a birder at heart, my natural inclination is to lookup at the trees and to try and spot the slight movements or difference in colour patterns, which are the tell tale signs of birds. But a tiger safari with an aim of spotting the big cats is a different ball game altogether. The focus here is on the bushes, shrubs and tree trunks and to be honest I was struggling to keep my head down.

After spending nearly two and half hours in our cantor, in search of the elusive tigers, we had nearly given up and were on the verge of making our way out of the park. To my luck I spotted a Crested Serpent Eagle on the ground. Now, I have hundreds of pictures of the CSE so it did not carry much novelty value except for the fact that I had spotted it on the ground for the fist time. So the birding instinct took over and on my cue the driver stopped the vehicle for me to add to my collection of CSE photographs. My co-passengers were kind enough to let me indulge as I moved up and down the cantor trying to get shots from different angles while the bird hopped around on the ground searching for a prey. The monotony of the moment was suddenly broken by distinct and loud alarm calls of the langur monkeys. Their calls were coming from close quarters and from the behind. So we decided to abandon the CSE and backed our vehicle a bit. We couldn’t backup a lot as our path was obstructed by another safari vehicle that had come up behind us. So we stopped and waited with bated breath. And lo and behold this young leopard emerged from the bushes to our right and majestically crossed the road between our vehicle and the vehicle behind us.

The sight was mesmerizing and the leopard majestic. Its confidence could be gauged from the fact that it didn’t even give us a cursory look as it crossed our path. It regally started climbing up the rocks on the other side of the road and finally, as if to grant me a wish, it suddenly paused and turned its head to give me a parting look. And that was all that I was seeking in any case 🙂

Leopards are by nature one of the most adaptable of the big cats. Though it is increasingly being squeezed between the habitats of tigers and humans, it has developed marvellous adaptive capabilities to survive. The ability to climb trees and drag heavy preys up the trees is one such capability that ensures its survival. The tigers and hyenas cannot climb trees and hence cannot harm a leopard that is perched on one. However, leopards continue to be classified as Near Threatened as per IUCN and greatly risk moving into the vulnerable category due to continuous loss of habitat due to anthropological pressures.

I had a great trip and this leopard sighting was indeed the icing on the cake. But the moral of the story is that a bird on the ground could yield a leopard in the bush.

6 responses to “A look to kill (Panthera pardus fusca)

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Absolutely stunning shot 🙂

    Great to hear your story too, nice write up…

  2. Wow..must be a view.

  3. Great Click. Looking forward for many more:)

    Archana Jhamtani Chugh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: