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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Leopard and cubs crossing the safari path

Misty morning during the safari and our vehicle including most of the vehicles made a beeline to the nearly full water hole as the previous day a male tiger was sighted in the water. While being parked at the waterhole we could hear an alarm call of the spotted deer at a distance and immediately most vehicles drove towards the alarm calls taking different routes and looping back to the waterhole. We did not see any predator so once again back at the waterhole. One safari bus came by and stated that leopard is walking along the road and off we rushed towards the spot and we we were able to see the bold old male leopard walking along the safari path while scent marking the area for about 5 minutes before he vanished into the bush. Our naturalist took a decision to move ahead thinking that the leopard that had gone into the would emerge out into open and as we were moving slowly scanning both sides of the forest as we could hear the alarm calls of bonnet macaque and langurs within the forested area. So were  all other vehicles but then after sometime these alarm call subsided and hence all other vehicles moved away however we stay put in the area as we had arrived to this spot late. After waiting there for over 10 minutes our driver started the vehicle but suddenly a herd of spotted deers about 25 meters ahead of the jeep started giving out alarm calls and looking towards the left hand side of the safari path. Immediately our driver stopped the vehicle and both naturalist and he started scanning the front left side bushes beside the path for the predator. Suddenly the naturalist stated that there is a female leopard just outside the bush looking intently into the bush and he predicted possible cubs. We guest asked the driver to move a little ahead so as to get a clear vision but the naturalist asked the driver to stay put for if there are cubs they would not come out in open. The waiting game and patience in the wild paid us rich dividend and we witnessed the mother leopard paving the path for its two cubs to cross the safari path and go into the bushes on the other side of the path. 

We kept waiting and then the mother leopard climbed on the tree and flopped down on the branch and started dozing. Slowly one by one the cubs climbed the tree and settled down beside her

I have deliberately left out the name of the forest and the area but regulars to this forest will be able to guess the same J Do enjoy the video and the images and give your comments if any.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Bull elephant in musth

The two safaris at Bandipur were blank and on the third safari at Kabini as we entered the forest we saw a elephant with huge tusks and both my companions, nephew and son in law were quite thrilled of seeing an elephant in the wild. This was just the beginning of an excitement that i am sure that they would cherish for ages to come. As we were travelling along the safari path we noticed a bunch of elephants peacefully feeding beside the path and our driver drove towards them slowly and yet these elephants never showed any form of aggression. Just as we crossed them we noticed that one of the female had moved on to the safari path with ears flaring and tail upright and i asked my nephew to get ready to capture a video of the elephant charge... and yes she did a mock charge at the jeep. As our driver sped up a bit we suddenly saw the matriarch charging at us from the side with loud trumpeting and stopping within 5 meters of the vehicle. It was then noticed that there was a young elephant among the group and they were protecting it and so we moved ahead but then we did not notice up ahead in the front we had a huge bull elephant (male)  in musth right on the safari track glaring towards us.
Musth is a periodic condition in a bull elephants when they have a large rise in reproductive hormones and the Testosterone levels can be 60 times the normal times. An elephant in musth can be identified very easily as the elephant discharges thick tar like secretion called temporin from their temporal glands on side of the head. An elephant in musth is very aggressive and even the most placid ones become very violent towards humans and other animals and hence it is not able to predict their actions rationally,

Given the condition of the bull elephant on the safari path our driver did not want to try speeding by the elephant for it would surely attack the vehicle. He stopped the vehicle and hoped that the bull would cross the safari path sufficiently far so that we could speed off but then no, this elephant in musth started walking towards the jeep. 

 Now we were literally stuck with the females in the back blocking the safari path and the huge male walking towards us. The driver was slowly reversing the jeep and few of us watching the back and others watching the front with bated breathe and hoping that nothing untoward happens. 


The bull elephant kept on coming and the jeep kept reversing on the path towards the small herd of female elephants. The herd started moving out of the path when it saw the bull elephant and this was the window our driver was looking for and with a burst of speed reversed the vehicle further back to a safe distance and then we kept watching the scene as to how one female elephant beckoned the male and after a moment the tusker also moved away from the path into the forest behind the females.  

 The rush of adrenalin in all the persons in the jeep was clearly visible and my companions enjoyed these moments for it was their first time in such situations and especially with elephants. The safari vehicle drive and the naturalist in the jeep were very skilled and exhibited coolness and did not panic in this situation and we are thankful to them for a wonderful safari.
Hope you enjoyed these moment while reading the post and viewing the photographs / video.