I was guiding 16 guests in the vehicle during the morning safari. It was a misty day and the fog was thick as we were on the riverside of the safari zone.
At first, we went to the boating point to scan the river banks for any signs of wildlife. We sighted a troop of Langurs and they were perched on a small leafless tree, and the youngsters were playing on the branches.
The guests were enjoying watching this spectacle. Then as we passed that area, I saw a female Chital stand with her tail flashing white whenever she raised it after sniffing the air. I asked Lokesh, the driver to stop the vehicle after watching this behavior of the deer. I told my guests to watch through the bushes as there was nervousness in the atmosphere.
As we were watching over the deer, we were all alarmed by the loud warning call of the Malabar Giant Squirrel, which was hopping between the low and high branches of an Axle wood tree. I was very sure about a predators’ presence, and in particular, a cat, as the Chital also started its alarm calls. But the deer sighting was in the bushes at our right.
Then the presence of the cat became further evident with the alarm of a young Langur, who made a low pitched call looking down through the bushes at the left of the track. I told all my guests to look through the bushes in the direction the Langur was looking. I also took my binoculars and scanned the dry lantana bushes, and there he was, crouched and hiding like a small cat. It took a while for the guests to spot this cat.
Thanks to our patience and the distance at which I have parked the vehicle, the young male leopard revealed his presence after a while, staring at us once in a while as he crossed the track in front of the vehicle and disappeared into the bushes.