Leopard (Panthera pardus) for a cause   Leave a comment

The green cat\

I have been agonizing as to how best to capture my emotions around this picture. At one end is the sheer joy of not only sighting this leopard in the clear but also to have got an opportunity to capture this interesting moment and at the other end is the enormity of the broader message that such an image could potentially propagate.

The narrative around the protection of environment in India is not complete without a mention of the Chipko movement. This was an organized movement of villagers in the 1970s, that sought to bring awareness and prevent the senseless felling of trees for profit. The word  chipko literally means embrace or to stick together. It had two very distinctive features – it was to a large extent lead by women – most of whom were not even literate and as has been the hallmark of many of the movements in India, this was also a non violent movement. The women would literally embrace the trees and prevent the contractors from felling the same. Though the organized movement started in the 70s, it actually drew inspiration from the acts of bravery of a group of women in 18th century Rajasthan, who risked their lives to prevent deforestation that had been ordered by their king of that time.

Seeing this leopard in this pose brought back images of the women protestors of the Chipko movement. The wild cats of India are also fighting a battle for survival. The biggest culprits being deforestation and poaching to satisfy the ever increasing demand for tiger bones and other body parts for use in Chinese medicines. Hence this picture seemed almost topical.Though the real purpose of the leopard was ofcourse quite different. It was marking its territory.

On a less serious note, it was a welcome break that I got after many months and I took the opportunity to visit Kabini, in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. I had planned just a one day trip and didn’t have much expectations of sighting a leopard or a tiger. But Kabini never ceases to amaze and I was rewarded with two leopard sightings during the same safari. Inspite of this good luck, like a true tiger enthusiast, I also lamented the fact that I did not get the chance to see any tiger or the real elusive black panther, before heading back to Bangalore 🙂 Yes, a black panther is being sighted regularly at Kabini these days.

So while I let you decide a caption that would best describe this picture, let me get back to planning a trip back to Kabini !

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