A Leopard poses for photographs in Gir National Park, Gujarat: The Great Arabian Sea Drive Day 8

gujarat-gir-leopard

I am off – for the first of the big cat safaris on this trip. Hoping to spot some of the last of the Asiatic lions on this planet – found only in Gir.

If it were not for the promise of some wildlife sightings, I would not respond to the morning alarm going off at 5:30. Early to rise is almost a norm on such journeys.

The Government provides a Gypsy, an all terrain vehicle, with a driver and guide for visitors. They are literally tin boxes though – saw a couple that had broken down.

But tourists need not worry assured the guide; if one breaks down, they call for a replacement that arrives in double quick time. No one is inconvenienced.

Drove around for over an hour with nothing to show. And then the driver screeched to a halt – and pointed to something blurry in the shadows of a trees. A leopard!

The leopard was just sitting there – on the lookout for a hunt said the guide. For a few minutes, he just sat around. Almost posing for the cameras. And then he walked off.

The guide and driver were all excited – leopards are rare to spot. And they scamper off at the slightest hint of humans. And this one waited to be clicked! They could not help showing off to all other safari vehicles passing us.

They treated the rest of the safari as a picnic; they had done their bit for the client. Lions were left for another day.

gujarat-gir-leopard

Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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