We left the lodge at 4.30 p.m. and drove along the track onto the tarmac road and through the villages, to the entrance to the buffer zone. Our naturalist and driver was Aly Rashid, the owner of Reni Pani Lodge and a member of the royal family of Bhopal. As we drove past Spotted deer, Langur, Wild Boar and Sambar were grazing on the forested edges. A White Eyed Buzzard gazed down at us from a tree. Rufous Treepie, Brahminy Starlings and Plum headed Parakeets flew across the track.
Female Paradise Flycatcher
A female Paradise Flycatcher flew into a tree close to the track. The female looks very different to the male with only the blue head crest present. Totally lacking the long tail streamers.
Suddenly a Langur gave the short cough alarm call from its perch high in a tree. Those on the ground hurriedly climbed the trees. There was a predator about. We sat and listened and watched but could see no sign of a predator, but this was Leopard country so our hopes of a sighting were raised.
Moving on we went to a forestry workers rest camp and Aly talked to the workers. Earlier in the evening, a Leopard had been sighted near a waterhole. With the sun setting we travelled to the waterhole and sat and watched. A White-eyed Buzzard was on the muddy shore having a drink and was being buzzed by lapwings, warning it to leave. There was no sign of the leopard.
Leopard on the Ridge
Aly suggested that we leave the waterhole and head up the rocky track to the top of the ridge where he had previously sighted a mother leopard with two cubs. We headed up the ridge using the car headlights. At the top was a small water hole where a couple of Wild Boar were having a drink.. With no sign of the leopards we turned around and headed back down the track. In the car headlights we suddenly saw a shape cross the track in front of us. The jeep halted and we turned off the headlights and let our eyes become accustomed to the darkness. Our forestry guide held a spotlight and shone it slowly among the rocks next to the jeep. There was eye-shine. Looking back at us was a young leopard cub.
Aly told us the cub was about 6 months old. We sat, watched and listened ensuring the spotlight was not causing distress. There was ample opportunity to watch the young cub and take photographs. She kept looking across the track to the hillside opposite. We could hear movement on this slope. It was possible that her mother and the other cub were on the slope, waiting for us to leave. As we could see the headlights of another jeep coming up the ridge track we decided to leave and head back to the lodge. Spotlighting the track and forest edges we spotted an Indian Hare and several Nightjars.
We arrived back at the lodge at 8.45 p.m. and went immediately to eat. Tomorrow we had two game drives with a 4.45 a.m. wake up call so after eating a delicious meal we headed off to bed.
Monday Morning Safari in Satpura