Friday, February 21, 2014

Tiger Safari: Raining Big Cats

The leopard must have been waiting still for long completely frozen and hidden in bamboo stunts.  The big cats both the tigers and leopards have an incredible ability to stay still perhaps for hours in order to surprise and ambush their prey. 

In one instance it was all over the large spotted deer was grounded instantly. We heard the deer's last cry before the canines ruptured the jugular. We had reached the Kanha Ghat road from Raja Kachhar a water body in Kisli Region of Kanha some distance from the Chimpta Camp. 

The cry emanated from the direction we were heading. We waited to make out the right location of the cry and missed one of the most thrilling moment. The kill happened few yards ahead of us and we could not witness. By the time we  reached the spot the majestic antlered deer was lying dead in the pool of blood. The leopard we knew was hidden in the bamboo bushes. 

"There!" The guide on jeep ahead pointed the bush to us as they moved on ahead. 

We decided to wait. The kill was too precious for the hungry leopard to leave. With excitement overpowering us we managed to wait silently for the animal to emerge.  We could see him inch towards the kill and then retract a couple of times. He was in no hurry to forage. The prey was too big for him that meant he had to drag it in the bush and consume.      

We wanted to photograph him but he would just inch towards the carcass and retract. The cat and human game continued for some time then there was silence. Many jeeps came after us but unfortunately they could not see the Kanha leopard.

My guests from UK - Cavan, Grace and Gwayne had earlier seen two young tigers at Badrinath in Kanha Meadow and the leopard sighting was a bonus. But more was yet to come. 

The same evening we saw a male tiger in the bush at Badrinath in Kanha Meadow. This was followed by another fantastic leopard on the rock sighting. Incredible posture of the big cat was a big opportunity for the wildlife photographers - amateurs and professionals.  The guests from Mumbai at Courtyard House could also see the spectacle and were happy. They had come to relax and enjoy great food at Courtyard House and they did, besides the Leopard Darshan.  

The morning ride to Mukki Zone was uneventful till we returned back to Kanha Ghat and saw another leopard in the canopy near the Kisli Meadow. That same evening we saw a young male tiger emerge from the bush at Badrinath and proceed towards the rivulet to drink. It was an ethereal moment as the big cat quenched his thirst. Busy photographers, gawking tourists, happy naturalists and guides all witnessed this spectacle. The guest from Mumbai were missing so I had some story to narrate. Well I did.