Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Big Cat

 The denizens of Kurubarahalli Doddi - the nearest village from our farm - have had two unplanned feasts in the last couple of months. NN, one of the goatherds in the village, drives his livestock to a part of the local forest that's home to a particularly enterprising leopard. In two separate but eerily similar incidents, the leopard, in broad daylight and right under NN's nose, ambushed the herd and sunk its teeth into one of the goats. In each incident, NN managed to chase the predator, but didn't manage to the save the prey. In this community, when a goat dies the owner reaches out to his network and lines up a bunch of sellers for the meat and negotiates a price with the group. The distress sale usually happens within the two or three villages in this area that are all inhabited by the lambani community, a fascinating people that trace their lineage to a nomadic tribe that descended from the north of India. 

We've been hearing about leopards in this area in other contexts too. The person who owns a house on one of the main streets claims to see a leopard from his balcony every other day. One of them even made the leap to his terrace when they had tied their dog there. 

All these stories had made me eager to set up the camera trap and capture one of these leopards in our farm. We had conclusive evidence that at least two of them had walked right in front of our gate on one rainy night, leaving their unmistakable paw-prints in the wet soil. 

After months of waiting I finally caught a grainy footage of one of them right across our gate. When I reviewed the footage from the camera trap in the morning, and saw the timestamp on the video capture I realised that this big cat had walked on the path less than five minutes after I had set up the camera. Goosebumps! 

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