Spotting a leopard at Nagarahole

Location: Nagarahole Tiger Reserve

The Nagarahole National Park is about 250kms from Bangalore city. Nisha and I decided to drive down to the national park for the long weekend in April 2022 when we learnt that the probability of sighting a tiger within the forest area is generally high during the summer months since animals tend to move across the forest in search of water.

Needless to mention, we wanted to see the tiger in its natural environment. However, we were aware that it was a game of chance that would require us to take multiple safaris to see the animal. We reached the Jungle Inn resort on Friday afternoon and post-lunch, we took the bus safari. Although quite uneventful, we managed to see a family of Indian Elephants, the striped-neck mongoose, peacocks, barking deer, sambar deer, Gaur and a healthy population of chitals (or spotted deer), thanks to the sharp eyes of the driver-cum-forest guide. The safari route is generally around the multiple water sources within the forest area. Forest

The next morning, we again took a bus safari hoping that the animals would come out early in the morning. During one such forest trail, a couple of vehicles before us spotted a wild cat, but were unsure if it was a tiger or a leopard. The information travelled fast, and almost all the vehicles including ours rushed to the spot hoping the see the animal. We spent almost half-hour in silence hoping that the animal would make its appearance, but the animal was smart and did not come out of the area and nobody saw it. We started to return and along the way, the driver heard a bark of a barking deer followed by a loud growl. Hoping that this is a sign of another carnivore nearby, we again decided to wait hoping that the animal would make its appearance. This again turned out to be a disappointment since the animal did not turn up in the area we were located. So with two near-misses, we realized that the luck was not in our favour that morning.

Post breakfast, Nisha and I decided to drive to Irupu falls which was on the other side of the forest (in Coorg district) and would require us to drive through the forest area. The thoroughfare is permitted in private vehicles between 6AM-6PM, but nobody is allowed to stop or step out of the vehicle within the forest range. The journey between either ends of the forest is expected to be completed within 1 hour failing which a fine is imposed. Although the excitement was palpable, we were very much aware that we were driving through a forest land that belongs to the animals and not the humans. We did encounter a lone wild tusker on the side of the road around a road-bend which we noticed only at the last moment. Thankfully, Mr. Elephant was very chill about it and the drive was quite uneventful more or less.


We returned from Irupu falls by around 2PM and we were informed that a couple of seats had opened up on a jeep safari. We initially wanted to do the jeep safari the next day morning but since it was unavailable, we decided to jump on this opportunity. However, our experiences from last couple of safaris taught us to keep the expectations low and go with the flow. It had also rained that afternoon, so we went in with absolute no expectations but to simply enjoy the pristine forest.

The jeep driver, who apparently was present in the morning’s near-miss, decided to take us to the same spot. Yet again, there was no sign of the carnivore and we visited all the watering holes, with no luck in spotting the elusive animal.

We did however see a cute family of elephants protecting their calf and gently grazing around, Elephant-family-1 Elephant-family-2 Elephant-family-3 a bunch of chitals making funny faces, Chital-1 Chital-2 Chital-3 Indian langurs showing-off their style, Langur-1 Langur-2 and a sambar deer. Sambar-1

As a last attempt before returning to the base camp, we went back to the same forest area as in the morning, where we observed a bunch of monkeys running between branches. Hoping that this was a sign of a tiger nearby, we stopped the vehicle and were observing the monkeys. Two other jeeps followed us, but since time was running out to return to the base camp, we turned around and stopped for the other jeeps to follow us. The monkeys were to our left happily playing around. Monkey-leopard

As we casually turned to our right, lo and behold, we saw a majestic but an elusive leopard walk right out of the bushes and stop on its path when it saw us. It took us 3 safaris, and a car ride to see the wild cat in its home and it was a very surreal moment when we finally saw it. Apparently, this was the first sighting of the leopard in a few weeks, so the josh was really high. The following are the sequence of images from spotting the leopard all the way till it crossed the path to run into the bushes on the other side of the road. Enjoy! Leopard-1 Leopard-2 Leopard-3 Leopard-4 Leopard-5 Leopard-6 Leopard-7 Leopard-8 Leopard-9 Leopard-10 Leopard-11


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