No, we didn’t get that “apex of sightings” (according to the Artificial Heirarchy of Jungle Sightings, developed by wildlife tourists)…no stripes. But on two of the three safaris we went on, we spotted spots. Here’s Panthera pardus, giving us a profile pose, nonchalantly:
However, the first leopard we sighted, was far away, and deep in the jungle:
but yet we caught sight of it getting up and walking off:
There were about six jeeps full of people (including the regulation Bright Red Tee Shirt Tourist) watching it:
The second one was sighted by my friend Yashpal. This was very apt, because before the trip, he'd emailed the rest of us that he was bringing along a special lens for a "decent leopard shot". So of course I started teasing him, asking him, "What if the leopard is not decent? These animals don't wear clothes, you know, they go around wearing only very expensive fur coats."
We were almost at the end of the safari when he sort of choked out, "stop"...and the leopard was climbing down a tree not very far from us. The magnificient male then sat down in the drenched foliage (something I never realized big cats do!) and waited patiently, I think, for us to move out.
After a few minutes, though, he decided he was the one to depart, and so he did....here are the shots of him in the greenery:
Something else seemed to capture his attention:
And off he went!
Thank goodness, no one asked us the usual question of "No tiger sightings?" ...it seems that to most wildlife tourists, a safari is incomplete without sighting a tiger.
I'd posted a photograph of the leopard on INW with the comment that someone asked , "You didn't see a tiger...did you 'at least' see a leopard?"
Santosh Saligram responded:
LOL, the inanity of the uneducated tourist is boundless. Still, that question is a lot better than one I was asked once when a man pulled up alongside our vehicle, which was parked somewhere in the forest on safari.
(Raising his brow and at a high pitch) "ONLY ONE?"
(Patiently) "Yes, only one."
(Restlessly) "What about the other 23???"
(This reserve is supposed to have 24 tigers.)
Similarly, a tourist had once demanded his money be refunded because his guide "cheated him" by showing "only one" tiger and omitting the other "twenty-odd" that were "supposed to be living there".
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
You cast on tourists' mood a general blight
If they cannot get your sight!
Here's Mr Leo Pard giving us the "are YOU going or shall I?" look: