Category: India, 2019

Shepherds and (Finally) Leopards

October 30

Set in a dramatic location of ancient craggy outcrops and fields of mustard and wheat bordered by the Lake, Jawai is the perfect area to explore the Indian countryside.  The area is the home of the Rebari tribes, traditionally herders.  The men are known for wearing white offset by bright red turbans and the women for their bright clothes and bangles.

We awaken early today to take a safari, searching for leopards amongst the towering boulders and cliffs. No leopards, but beautiful, rugged countryside, birds, peacocks.And interesting, very friendly people. Such a pleasure to be riding around in the Jeep.After I have breakfast (Carol is waiting for lunch to eat), we set off with our ranger, Ram, and an employee of our hotel who comes from the village we’ll be visiting, first to find and walk with a shepherd and, after we get the hang of shepherding, to give him a few pointers. Some goats go to considerable length to reach their food.

Afterwards, we go into a rather clean and prosperous-looking village, where we meet some villagers, including women with many bangles, climb up to see a temple, busy with Diwali visitors and happen upon men playing a kind of dice game. We are not the only ones interested in taking photos of interesting-looking people; we are often the subject matter.It’s gotten quite hot, so we are happy to return to the camp, where Carol has lunch and I go for a swim, before departing on our 4:30 game drive, once again searching for leopards among the craggy rocks.   As we start out, it begins to drizzle, and Ram considers turning back to camp, but we continue.

Not long after, Ram gets word of a leopard sighting, tells us to hang on, and tear asses over very bumpy roads to the sight, which is full of bushes, trees and large, craggy rocks. Many other jeeps have gathered, in fact eighteen at one point. Ram is able to locate the leopard and cub, well hidden and a long way off. They move from time to time, making it even more difficult to find them. Carol spots them, better than I can, but we’re still barely able to see them. At least we’d be able to tell folks that we’d seen leopards, but not in a very satisfying way.

As the sun is setting, we take off and drive up a stony hill for a spectacular view of Lake Jawai at sunset.

After sunset, Ram says he has an idea and wants to look for the leopards again. It’s pitch dark, but by shining a flashlight (not really cricket), he finds the mother leopard and cub, and we’re able to see them clearly, with no other jeeps around. This is fun and exciting. For the first time on this trip, not having my camera prevents a better photo (though even if I’d had my camera, it wouldn’t have been much). As it is, here’s proof, at least, that we saw a damn leopard.

Not my best leopard photo. For comparison, here’s one taken about fifteen years ago that appears in Carol and my book, No Secret Where Elephants WalkAfter tonight’s sighting, in a stunningly sensible decision, Carol and I decide not to arise at 5:30 tomorrow for a final game drive, but to sleep in, and pack and have breakfast at leisure. Pretty mature, huh?

6 comments to Shepherds and (Finally) Leopards


    Never thought about leopards in India!

  • Wendy Snell


  • Barbara Sandler

    Such great photos! Even the ‘supposed’ leopard, was cool, in a sorta mysterious way… Anyhow, very glad you had this adventure. And, yes, “pretty mature,” but not to worry, you remain buoyantly boyish!

    Love, Your Little Sister

  • Susie kiphart

    You have amazing adventures. You both can give me some new words that mean amazing before your next trip!!’ Beautiful pictures. Susie

  • Phoebe Snell

    Wow, the landscape is stunning! I love the photos of the setting, but even more the photos of the people. I especially loved the one of the lady with the great smile taking a photo of you. Nice to see how she is delighting in having visitors just as you’re delighting in visiting!

  • kay osborne

    Love the landscape, love your writing too.

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