Coming upon a leopard in the first rays of a winter sun is like discovering a fresh cannoli sitting next to your steaming Double Espresso. What a combo! Especially in the hills of Pali where the lunar landscape of granite and the sparse vegetation create an amazingly unique ambience, not replicated anywhere else in India or the world.
Looking forward to heading out there again early next year amongst these unusual leopards.
A jawai leopard looking for warmth in the first rays of the sun
The stage is pitch black. The audience holds its breath. A solitary spotlight fades on. Boom- out of nowhere, there’s a glittering & bejeweled Michael Jackson in all his glory. You could feel his presence on your skin.
My first sighting of this juvenile leopard, as he emerges from the dark depths of the granite kopjes of the Pali hills of Rajasthan to warm himself in the first rays of the sun. Very reminiscent of my first sighting of MJ, many years ago.
As dramatic. As unforgettable.
You could be 10 feet from a leopard and never see it! Its the ultimate in big cat camouflage. There is something about the rosettes, the tone, the color, hue, shape and movement of this cat that makes it practically invisible if it chooses not to be seen.
This is probably why it manages to exist in very close proximity to man without him ever sensing its presence. Many communities, even in urban areas in India would be shocked to discover that these cats live, eat, breed under their very noses, because they manage to do so very secretively.
The exploding human population is changing this dynamic very rapidly. Instances of conflict in outer Mumbai, Uttarakhand and many other places suggest the proximity has gotten way too close for comfort.
With our diminishing forest cover, these cats have no place to go. They need a new trick. Quick.