One of my rarest encounters in a tiger territory was in the month of March. We drove through the newly re-constructed roads that smelt earthy. Our safari happened just after the bushy undergrowth had been trimmed and burned on either sides of the road to combat against summer wild fire.

I was eagerly anticipating that the beloved elephants might  come out into the open. My predictions were to be true. A little later, we spotted a herd of elephants on the right side of our safari vehicle. And lo! There was another group of elephants waiting for us on the other side of the road as well! One that seemed to be the matriarch of the group came boldly towards our vehicle and tried to scare us. She soon found a Rosewood tree (Dalbergia latifolia) nearby to scratch her trunk. A little later, as she drifted into the Lantanas to fetch her split herd, we proceeded further to find out more animals.

This time it was the Malabar Giant Squirrel on a Melia Dubia tree. As we were enjoying the sighting of the squirrel, I saw dust rising from the ground at a distance. I asked the driver to speed up our vehicle as there was a rush by other safari vehicles, towards a particular location. Just as we were about to reach the spot, we heard the thundering growls of a leopard!

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

The growls were coming from the perch of a yellow Teak tree (Tectona grandis) about 25 feet high above the ground.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Soon enough we spotted his mate, the leopardess sitting higher up the same tree!

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

We were all quite anxious about what this leopard was growling at! Suddenly, I saw the big cat emerging from the bushes, with a claw that was exposed to fury.  We were all dumbfounded to see a tigress!

Tiger (Panthera tigris)

Tiger (Panthera tigris)

Perched high up on the tree, the leopardess managed to get onto an Axle-wood tree (Anogeissus latifolia) about 50 feet high.

The roars and grunts continued until the stripes disappeared into the bushes. The tigress had to prove her territory and get a hold on it. After waiting for another hour, the leopardess got down from the tree, all the while treading cautiously at her every step. Shortly, the leopard too fled from the scene.

It was time to return and we headed back to the resort having the contentment of meeting the most famous predators of the jungle at one go!