A Wild Weekend!

To see a tiger in the wild has been a lifelong dream of mine and when a dear friend invited us to join him for a safari at the Nagarhole (Kabini) reserve near Mysore, R & I readily agreed. Mr. Tiger stubbornly refused to make an appearance but we were amply compensated by the sight of Mr. Leopard below, who cavorted before us for a good 45 minutes, before strolling off nonchalantly into the bushes!

Our daughter, having been on safari to South Africa just this past year, sniggered at our lone cat sighting but I was undeniably ecstatic as I had never seen a big cat in its natural habitat before.

These images aren’t the greatest, being as they are my first attempt at wildlife photography with pitifully inadequate equipment. But that doesn’t take away from Mr. (Torn Ear!) Leopard’s star quality…isn’t he magnificent?

This lady, relaxing on top of a branch, was farther out and just barely qualified as a ‘sighting’.

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We saw many other less elusive animals and birds but the highlight of the weekend for us was getting to watch a herd of elephants up close and to be privilege to a moving display of tender maternal emotions. Their amazing dignity in the face of human interference was humbling and left me with goosebumps.

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Our long weekend actually began in Mangalore with a cousin’s 80th birthday celebration where I met more cousins than I remembered having! And while there, we got to attend a “Bhuta Kola’ – a ritual dance of divine spirits – indigenous to coastal Karnataka. But that is another story that I hope to get out before I set off for La Serenissima. Stay tuned…

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

98 thoughts on “A Wild Weekend!

  1. As you probably know, I have had a lifelong love affair with cats, and I especially like the big ones. You have some beautiful visual captures here.

    1. Thank you Shimon. I adore your photos of your cats. This wildlife thing can get addictive! We were never very avid jungle goers before, but we are already talking about a repeat visit!

    1. We saw a lot many other animals of course, but the leopard and the elephants were the stars πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Madhu, I’m catching up too – this post was a wonderful way to start my day. Those leopards are beautiful – but I was most impressed by the behaviour of the elephants. They could teach we humans so much about solidarity and family in times. You are so right that it is sad to see how such huge animals see we puny beings as dangerous predators….

  3. Never been on safari, but I understand the feeling of seeing an animal in the wild. We were in Yosemite one year when a bear cub walked in front of our car. We’ve also had a close encounter with an antelope sprinting across the highway in NW Utah. Luckily there was no one behind us.

    1. Your national parks must be amazing for wildlife spotting. Have never heard of people going to the US fro safaris though. Does that happen at all?

  4. I have been on a safari a couple of times, but never really spotted a cat out in the wild. We have had near-spottings, though, but nothing close. 😦 It is my dream to do so, at least once.

    The photos are beautiful!

    1. Thank you. You should allow yourself at least four safaris over a two night stay in the least. There have been a lot of sightings in Bandipur as well as Kabini. In fact people in our lodge saw tigers on two days while we were there….our luck wasn’t as good. The leopard was great consolation though.

  5. great photos and very good experience, Madhu. It reminds me of several routine encounters, in the 7’s, in East Africa, of Eleph. herds, Zebras, giraffes etc and occasionally lions in their most natural,(No tigers, of course there).

    1. We will be going to Africa later this year, so hope to see some of those. But not giving up on seeing a tiger someday πŸ™‚ Thank you Shakil.

  6. Madhu, one of my favorite animals … the leopard is such beautiful animal. Your photos truly make them justice – my favorite shot is the one in three – love how you capture the leopards eyes. The elephants are amazing … beautiful shots all of them.

  7. He’s magnificent! 45 minutes of leopard sighting is really lucky Madhu. In case you haven’t been, the tiger reserves in MP offer a very good chance of sightings. I’ve visited Kanha… It was fantastic!

  8. Love the shot of the elephants crossing the road Madhu; really gives on perspective, doesn’t it?! Sorry Mr. Tiger didn’t appear but how many people get to see leopards and elephants in the wild? Our safari in Africa was truly life-changing; I hope you trip is also!

  9. Those big cats never do what we want…hence no tiger. All I ever wanted to see in Africa was a cheetah…but absolutely no luck. Those elephants though…sad they have to hide their baby from us, but how beautiful is the way the nurture the baby

  10. Found you! πŸ™‚ I love that leopard, whether he changes his spots or not! Thank you so much for the mention, Madhu. By the time you come back down to earth I’ll probably be on my way to Poland. Take good care πŸ™‚

  11. What an incredible, memorable encounter with the leopard and the elephants. Well captured and narrated. Sounds like a wonderful trip with more stories to share.

  12. Madhu, you definitely need to give yourself more credit, as all of these are wonderful pictures. I think the leopard in the tree is my favorite photo because of the unique capture! And I loved the photo gallery: heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, and your commentary added so much to the story, as it always does. What an incredible adventure!

  13. Wow Madhu great shots! Beautiful animal, you are so lucky to see him in his natural habitat.

    1. Thanks Valentine. My zoom wasn’t powerful enough, and capturing subjects that wouldn’t stay still was quite the challenge πŸ™‚

  14. Oh wow Madhu! I can see you had a wonderful trip. Amazing shots hon. Really! You’ve captured the leopard and elephants so beautifully! Great post and share hon. Thanks! πŸ˜€ β™₯ Hugs β™₯

    1. Thank you Sonel. I really felt the need for a better camera, especially a better zoom.

  15. Reblogged this on Clear Stream of Reason and commented:
    A beautiful post !..Have to reblog this one! :)… The leopard is so majestically clothed!.. And the elephants are a symbol of humility despite their huge size!… So much to learn from nature! :)…

  16. Actually these are good photos. The leopards look healthy and grand guys. I liked your lady in the tree very much. Named it “Spot the Leopard”…..enjoyed this post a lot..

    1. Thank you very much Susan. I felt guilty about disturbing the haughty lady in the tree after a while. There were about six vehicles and sixty cameras pointed at her and even from that distance she wasn’t amused πŸ™‚

  17. oh Madhu, the treat of a lifetime, a leopard in view for 45 minutes! Your elephant series is wonderful, and it is sad, such intelligent creatures reduced to being endangered by greedy human beings …. so glad you were out in the wild!!

    1. The leopard was an unexpected treat Christine! Now I am going to be focused on project tiger πŸ™‚

    1. I am envious Dilip! And your photos are lovely! Hope I get to see on of those magnificent creatures soon.

  18. Lovely wildlife photos Madhu, I adore elephants! I only saw a leopard at a distance and didn’t have a zoom lens so I’m impressed by your pics. Bring on Karnataka πŸ™‚

  19. Hi, enjoyed going through the post.hope your visa’s come.have a gr8trip.waiting to hear all about it.

    Sent from my HTC

  20. True Madhu, the elephants are really very elegant,graceful and patient..Loved the video .I always enjoy to watch this magnificent creature.
    Leopard too is quite graceful though my pick is the lady on the branch…..how cool n relaxing.

    1. She was facing the other way and fast asleep when we first spotted her. Then she turned around and gave us that disdainful look as if to say “Get lost you pests!” πŸ™‚

  21. It’s exciting to see animals in their natural habitat rather than being penned up in a zoo. I enjoyed my Kenya safari and stayed in a wildlife park in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately never had the opportunity to see one in Bharat Mata.

  22. There I was, thinking you were already there (in La Serenissima) but instead you’re with those magical animals! Shame about missing the tiger, but I think a cavorting leopard probably compensates. πŸ™‚ It was quite alarming, seeing the poor elephants having to cross that road …

    1. And spellbinding! I wondered why they didn’t cross further ahead, but I was told they follow a defined path and will not stray from it unless they perceive extreme danger. The leopard was in search of a mate and was least interested in us πŸ™‚

  23. WOW! What an amazing post!!! The pic of the leopard in the tree is awesome. The march of the elephants is pretty darn cool too … the way the herd protects the baby is very impressive. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us, Madhu!

    1. Thank you! And you are most welcome Stephen. I am not a very outdoorsy person, but this felt like it could get addictive πŸ™‚

  24. Madhu, what an exciting adventure for you – those gorgeous cats! And hasn’t Mama Elephant trained the baby well, that’s protection for you!

    1. Way more exciting than I expected Patti. A tiger would have rounded it off perfectly….another time hopefully πŸ™‚

  25. That leopard looks magnificent. And you’re right, Madhu, about the elephants – there’s much we civilized people can learn from the wild ones.

    Peace,
    Eric

    1. We have turned into animals in our race towards progress haven’t we? And that is giving these gracious creatures a bad name πŸ™‚ Thanks Eric.

    1. I am glad! Bandipur might be even better. I hope you know that the safari isn’t a private affair like in Africa. Only government vehicles are allowed inside the reserve and they try to limit the number of vehicles by clubbing people from different lodges together to make up small groups. Between 9 – 12 vehicles max at a time if I am not mistaken. Some lodges send their own trackers, but I think it all depends on your luck in the end.

      1. Thanks Madhu I would imagine it was like Ranthambore in terms of organisation – I think they could learn from African safaris – but hey it wouldn’t be India πŸ™‚

  26. Oh, I think the leopard shots are marvelous, and I can feel the excitement of knowing you were right there! I love what you say about the elephants, too. Warms my heart, Madhu. Makes me teary. πŸ™‚

  27. Oh, lucky you! I love elephants and all wild life – but not much beats the wild predators. What a treat! Thank you, Madhu!

    1. It has been a dream all my life Ann Christine. Had only seen fleeting yellow glints in the tea bushes, reflected off our car headlights when we returned home to our plantation bungalows in days gone by. This was a real treat πŸ™‚

    1. Mine too. But the leopard was my first big cat sighting so he was kind of special. Thanks Suzanne. Catch up with you soon πŸ™‚

  28. For someone who has seen elephants and giraffes only in a zoo, your adventure is as wild as wild can get. your photos are beautiful even though you are not a wild life photographer. πŸ™‚

    1. Ah you are too kind Imelda πŸ™‚ I am very grateful for the sightings. My father in law was a forest officer and we have been on many forest visits with him, but this is my first big cat sighting!!

  29. Lucky you!

    Thanks for sharing your experience Madhu,,,,,was eagerly awaiting this post πŸ™‚

    Hope you got the video clip of the performance?

    1. I am afraid I forgot to capture the drama on video Sabina!! And the guys were useless with the camera. It would have been so lovely to have you with us πŸ˜€

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