Shy, elusive, charismatic, stealth are known characteristics of a Leopard. Spots all over the body gives an appalling fancy look. They primarily inhabit in tropical rain forests, dry deciduous forests. temperate forests and often seen in the fringes of cities and villages.
Like anywhere, human-leopard conflict is quite evidently found in Karnataka too. As Nagarahole lies between Coorg, Hunsur and HD Kote reported sightings and appearances of Leopards are high.
They cannot outsmart Royal Bengal Tigers, hence are not commonly found in forests which has more number of tigers.
For easy prey, leopards get inside village limits. Consequences are bad in both ways.
It was an unexpected visit to one of my favorite place --Nagarahole National Park, aka Kabini. Fondly known as leopard country, this forest perhaps has the highest population of Asiatic leopards found anywhere in India and offers an amazing wildlife experience.
|A perfectly camouflaged Leopard.|
|We set off to evening safari with the hopes of finding royal cats. Two hours of extensive search did not yield anything. The forest was calm as if it was a good student. JLR vehicles roamed from one zone to another in search of action. Then comes a call from Hanuman Langur...! It's continuous calls alerted the whole forest. We drove in the direction from where the call came and stopped.|
Summer had begun, the vegetation was dry. Thickets of forests had turned from green to dark shades of brown. There was hardly any movement in the bushes. Dusk was falling quickly and the light was dull, we finally found the elusive cat..! It was extremely difficult for us to spot the cat as it blended with the color of dry bushes.
|The Elusive leopard.|
The following day too was an action packed journey amidst dry jungle. We entered Mastigudi range without a naturalist. We spotted a prowling leopard hardly few yards away from the range entry gate..! It was behind a fallen tree awaiting for a chance to pound on a herd of deer. But the noise made by our jeep engine distracted the herd, the leopard went inside the bushes.
|All I could capture was it's back..!|
We guessed this cat would emerge out of the bush through a different exit. Hence, our driver took us to that location and halted. But the same cat had come out through a different direction and was trying to hunt the same herd of deer which apparently had dispersed sometime back. Again, the attempt was in-vain.
It had become difficult for us to keep track of this prowling cat. The phantom was in desperate need of prey ! it evaded us completely. After several rounds of intense search we finally found him on top of a tree, possibly trying to sleep. It was a WOW moment..!
|The Phantom on tree.|
Apart from leopards the forest offered us other attractive wildlife moments. Jackal with puppies, fight of brother elephants, a male peacock dancing were the highlights.
|Female got attracted for his efforts.|
Date of Visit: Feb 20, 21-2015
Mammals Found on safari : Indian Leopards, Sambar, Spotted deer, Jackals, Wild boar, Indian Gaur, Mongoose.
More Photos on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/79335872@N06/sets/72157655697034588/with/19225279514/