A Leopard mom in Jawai

leopard yawning in den ©leopard in a cave © leopard female marking on hill ©

A Leopard LOL ? A private joke, in her private den?   Perhaps, but this is a leopard mom of two young cubs waking up after a hearty meal and a late afternoon siesta – its time to go hunting. It was obvious that she had a full belly but she it appeared that she needed to feed her cubs. We followed her the whole evening, stalking for prey, till the time she came very close and got into position to make the final kill, but darkness made sighting & photography impossible –    and wedidn’t want to interfere with the hunt. We were rewarded at the crack of dawn, the next morning. She had successfully made a kill and was resting on a rockface in the morning light with her 2 well fed cubs frolicking around her.   leopard jawai with shadow ©   What is remarkable is the fact that the leopard has no natural prey here. Their diet consists of small mammals and rodents and the occasional village dog or a herdsman’s goat. Oddly, these herdsmen are accepting of this. Losing a goat or a village dog to the leopard is a small price to pay. They do get compensation even though this isn’t govt. land or even  under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department. Nevertheless the Rabari feel a kinship and protectiveness towards this predator. The leopard preserves their way of life, simply by being there.  This ‘tolerance’ is rather unusual, given the fact in most other zones of man/animal conflict around the world, the animal is seen as a threat to livestock or urbanization and is inevitably killed, beaten or burned to death by the locals or in a rare case, sent to a zoo. This is indeed a real life Noah’s arc.leopard mom cubs with cactus ©

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