Panthera pardus, commonly known as leopard, is one of the five big cats. My bucket list to see them in the wild was ticked off on that lucky day 🙂 .
For the love of wildlife, Rahul and I had decided to spend the long weekend of Republic Day in BR Hills. We desperately wanted to see the big cats.
BR Hills is a hill range situated in Karnataka. It is declared as a tiger reserve.
On Republic Day:
Following our guide’s suggestion, we started early morning that day and our car was the first to enter the forest. (Fact: In Karnataka, the forest entry and exit gates are closed between 6 PM to 6 AM and no vehicle can pass through the forests.)
After driving slowly (very slowly) for about 1 to 2 kms from the entry gate, there was something – yes, we spotted a fully grown leopard, walking on the road. As soon as the leopard heard the voice of the engine, it sprang into the bushes. We rolled our car slowly near the bush where the leopard had jumped. The leopard was hiding, behind a bush. The leopard was so up close – say about 10 feet away from the car. It was magnificent and amazing. Wow – what a beautiful creation by God.
Within seconds, the leopard realized we were not leaving anytime soon and decided to disappear into the dense bushes. We were thrilled and super happy. “What a lucky day”, we thought!
But we wanted more, so we started driving a little further into the forest. Few meters ahead, we saw another leopard walking on the road, which soon jumped into the bushes and disappeared. I think we would have got anything we had asked for on that day from God – I am sure it was one super lucky day for us.
This is one of the most memorable and fruitful wildlife trips I have ever had. We wanted to see the big cats – even though we didn’t see the tigers, we saw the leopards – two of them 🙂 .
Apart from the leopards, we spotted a sloth bear (again a very rare sight – yaaay), many many spotted deers, a barking deer,a giant malabar squirrel, an Indian gaur, and lots of colorful birds. I would definitely recommend BR Hills for any wildlife lovers out there. It is definitely a hidden jewel that is very close to the hustling and bustling city of Bangalore and is a perfect weekend getaway.