Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Leopard Surprise - Tiger Safari Bandhavgarh

People chase tigers and they often get to see it with some luck. But you can't chase a Leopard and hope to see it. To see the elusive cat you have to be extremely LUCKY!!!. In spite of being so much in the Jungles of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve my first sighting of the Leopard was quite late.

It was some where ten years back one fine summer I along with my friend had just arrived at the Bandhavgarh National Park. This was my friend's first visit ever to an Indian forest.As luck would have it that evening on reaching Bandhavgarh we were ambling down the path that led to our rooms besides the Charanganga river at White Tiger Lodge when someone from among the visitors standing by the lawn shouted Leopard!. I ignored the call thinking that it was some "expert" who had mistaken a Jungle Cat for a Leopard . But moments later it, dawned upon me that it was the resort's manager's voice, a call I could definitely not, ignore.

We left our baggage in front of the door and joined the excited group which was frantically throwing light on the river bed from their torches. But the animal had by this time literary buried itself on the river bed. I asked the group to cut off the light and maintain a pin drop silence for a minute to which they complied eagerly. In that thrilling moment, we held unto our nerves tight and waited with baited breadth hoping to calm the alarmed Leopard.

Soon I signaled the torches on and.... Wow! there it was a full grown Leopard right in front of us. But the crowd could not hold on much longer and began to chatter excitedly. The Leopard , at first tried to climb up the nearest tree but came down from half the way and ambled quite leisurely in full view in the broad torch light, it soon crossed over the jungle and vanished.

I was as excited as my friend and others were. Our first sighting of the elusive cat that too on our arrival..and from the resort itself. What more could one want, thousand would arrive at the resort unpack and venture into the forest day in and day out, but few will see the elusive cat, very few in fact.

The forest life is very secretive in the Indian Jungles hence the excitement and thrill experienced on a chance encounter in tiger safari is indescribable.

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