A story worth reading, through the eyes of a Naturalist : Leopards of Satpura
Did you know about a cat which is agile, elusive, most adaptable, astoundingly strong and at the same time is one of the most vulnerable? All these adjectives together bring the big cat – leopard. The sensitive, curious and deadly eyes always made me anxious to see it in the wild. Longing to witness It’s behavior of this camouflaging predator.
Even after working in the field of wildlife conservation and tourism for two decades, I was not able to see it in the wild how I wanted to. All over these years the desire was growing stronger than ever. Sometimes I felt mother nature was testing my patience. Somehow I managed to see the cat but it swiped from my view within a blink of my eyes.
Now, when I got the opportunity to work in the jungles of Satpura, apart from the happiness of being in this magnificent forest, my deepest wish to see the leopards of satpura made me more excited. More than two hundred leopards in the tiger reserve might bring me some luck, I thought!!
And…here you go – my zing with a leopard happened right here at Satpura Tiger Reserve. The proper first sighting was like a lifetime achievement. Exactly saw it how I imagined. Ambushing, crouching and approaching a prey in stealthy movements. When I got close, the speed was sharp. It seemed like I was watching something I had read. Trust me at one point I felt I am going to give a treat to all the guides and driver in the park…(realized my pocket was damn small when reality hits me)
One of my recent sightings made me and the guest laugh. We were at the Rorapahari facing towards the Denwa river through the window between the canopy as there on the river bank was a big Mugger crocodile basking in the sun. After we were enriched by the sighting we turned and saw the leopard which was sitting like a dog facing towards us and staring. Then of course it moved out but imagine while we were busy looking at the mugger it kept a watch on us and we were unaware of it. So it is true that there are 100s of eyes in the forest who are looking at us but we see only a few.
Then, it all started. Now and then leopard sightings kept happening and those swayed my emotions all the time. Chasing the fresh pug marks on the tracks and seeing it head on, doing territory marking, blending behind the bush, sitting on the rock, watching the wild pigs feeding on its kill from the tree, feeding on a kill keeping an eye around, resting on a tree, the fast escape from the wild dogs, sometimes acting stupid…. Gosh every time I remember these moments make me smile and become more engrossed in them.
Satpura Tiger Reserve is the place where I found my dream target species. Every time I enter the park whether it’s in the buffer or core I keep looking out for it. Actually, do you know what the best feeling is? I might not be able to describe that… you must visit to witness THE LEOPARD by yourself.