It was a cold, cold morning in new Nagzira. We had already won the appreciation of the guides there because we showed up diligently at 6 every morning, despite the fact that we saw ‘nothing’ (read: no tiger).
New Nagzira, as many blogs and reviews would tell you, has barely any animals. A few bison, if you are lucky. A couple of deer (literally, two). A handful of monkeys.
That morning, apart from the trees, we had seen nothing. Not a single deer, not a single monkey, not a single bison. We had heard a parakeet screeching – that was about as close we had got to seeing wildlife.
“Leopard?” asked our driver suddenly.
“Leopard!” cried the guide.
The leopard, startled at seeing tourists, darted into the trees. From between the bushes, it looked at us and growled.
We watched, trembling. Cold, thrill, excitement – read ‘trembling’ in any way you like.
The leopard realised that we were foolish creatures who were not going to turn around and go away. With supreme feline indifference, it stepped out onto the main road. It had to mark its territory, whether or not these strange two-legged animals were watching.
Leopards never give people a sighting like the one this one gave us that cold winter’s morning.
There’s something about being the only jeep there: no noise, no drama, no commotion. The leopard walked for nearly ten minutes in front of the jeep. We watched, keeping our distance. There was no one behind us shouting, whispering or pointing. It was just us, and we knew how to behave.
And the leopard gave us the sighting of a lifetime. It walked with its back to us, graceful, agile, powerful. Every time it squatted it stared at us.
When it was done with its morning’s agenda, it turned, strode into the trees and disappeared.