The sun scorched state of Rajasthan is famous for its deserts and rich culture. However , under the shadow of that popularity lies abundant wilderness and some elusive wildlife. It was this year , that finally I decided to pay a visit to this state and track one of the most elusive big cat of the wild.The leopards!
While leopard population is quiet good in India, yet due to its shy behavior , it is very less seen in the wild. If you're among big cats and wildlife lover like me, this blog will surely instigate a probable plan in mind.
To go leopard sighting was one of the most exciting thing I have done till date. The journey took me to the south of Rajasthan , in the region of Jawai dam.
Unlike the natural landscape of Rajasthan of desert and barren plains , Jawain boasts of greenary and vegetation quiet well around the area. The region is formed of ancient volcanic rocks , that forms the hills around the area. This hills are the homes to leopards, since it provides perfect lairs and caves to have a healthy lifestyle for the big cat.
The Jawai lake is a prominent spot to seek migratory birds and crocodiles , and it is here where our first safari to track a leopard started , early in the morning. The lake is beautiful enveloped between hills , and gives a beautiful outlook to the region.
In monsoon , the lake expands over hectares of area , submerging the grassland and swamp plains around it. Other times, this plains are used by local rural farmers to produce their crop.
Farming like most of India , is primary occupation , complimented by animal rearing in daily life. Herds of buffaloes , sheeps and goats can be seen tended to by the local people. This livestock not only aids the people living here , but also is one of the primary food base for the leopards that live in the hills around.
Surprisingly , the presence of leopards in the area have been for more than hundreds of years , and till now , no human has ever been reported dead , by its attack. This surprising co existence of leopards and humans in the Jawai region , is one of the most interesting cases of wildlife.
The hillocks put up perfect places for the leopards to ply their trade. Regardless of humans in vicinity , they are quiet comfortable here. Such is the behavior of the wild cat, that upon morning and evening , some certain places and known as favourite for the leopard population , where they come out to bask in the rising and falling sun.
This places are to be kept a watch , and the movement of leopards through carcass of kills, pug marks can be tracked. What helps in sighting is the knowledge of the huge area of Jawai which spans across many a miles, and only using gypsy jeeps , this region can be well patrolled for sighting leopards.
The gypsy are perfect for safari in this region. And not only does it serve to go around for leopard hunting but is an adventure in itself, The safari jeeps go up and down the hillocks , which is quiet a fearful experience, as without a experienced hand at helm, mishaps are eminent. This risk also makes the experience of tracking fun leopards fun. With binoculars and a steady eye , one has to go from hillock to hillock searching for the big cat. Slowly but surely , Jawai is gaining popularity with the wildlife lovers, as no region in the world can give such high probability to track a leopard in its natural habitat.
The tracking needs patience and love for wildlife, as long hours waiting can be eminent while on the drive.
The rewards for such hard work is the grace of the big cats lurking in the hills. They are well camouflaged with the brown boulder colors , and takes a little experience to get used to, in tracking them. The caves of the hills are their home, and while the leopards decide to reproduce , they change their positions to further places , which adds a toll in tracking them. They need a safe place to produce their litter which is why , they vanish from the eyes and from regular places that they generally ply around.
Other than live stocks , the Jawai region has a number of Nilgai , wild boars and other prey base for them to hunt.
While live stock is endangered and killed by leopards , the people of Jawai are aware enough not to kill them back. They are rightly compensated for the loss of the livestock by the authorities here. Due to the high population of leopards in the region, tourism is expanding , which brings good money to the region. What needs to be seen is how in coming years, commercialization is balanced with the preservation of wildlife here. Like the humans and leopards have co existed together here, it is of such prayer , that business and conservation finds its balance too.
To go on this exciting adventure of leopard tracking in Rajasthan , you can consult me for advice!
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"