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Trip Report:

Western India -
The Gir Asiatic Lions and
so much more!


A mating pair of Asiatic Lions walk towards us.

This trip report is a bit late! We did this trip in the spring of 2016 but I forgot to post it. I hope you'll enjoy the report ... we loved western India!

Day 1. Delhi to Gir Forest

We flew Jet Air, an India airline, to Mumbai, where we changed planes, this time a turbo prop, for our flight to Dui. On both legs of that journey overhead space, and carry-on camera gear, was not a problem, nor was it on our flight from Jabalpur to Delhi, at the end of our mini-Tiger safari. In Dui we were met with our bus driver, the same man who last year drove us to Keoladeo. This drive, for him, took thirty hours, but it was certainly convenient to have a bus, rather than several SUVs, for this journey. We’d have the driver, his helper, and the bus for the entire journey.
Flying into Mumbai, we were struck by the size and the poverty, as our descending jet flew over neighborhood after neighborhood of clustered tin roofed houses, forming rough squares for passage and where, I’ll presume, between the roofs there were other, far more narrow roads or trails. An odd smell, something like sewerage or rotted meat, was pervasive when we landed, and we never found the source – was it a constant or not, and did we get used to it by the time we boarded our airport bus for the short ride to our plane for the next leg? At any rate, we didn’t notice the smell two hours later.
Dui, and the road to Gir, was quite pleasant. Western India is near-desert in places, and perhaps because of the monochromatic nature of the landscape the buildings, and the women, around Dui were colorful, and the setting attractive. As we drove on, heading a bit more into the interior, the land became dustier and drabber, although mango orchards, wheat fields, and sugar cane plots indicated fairly fertile land.
We arrived at our lodge, Lion Safari Camp, before dark – we’ve gained nearly 1.5 hours of evening light as we’ve traveled west from Bandhavgarh to here, and the lodge seems adequate. A large pond or lake parallels the access road, and we saw Pied Kingfishers, Purple Gallinules (Indian species), Brown Rails, and some songbirds in the reeds as we drove by.
At dinner, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. – not too spicey, our guide, Indie, informed us that Gujarat’s parks enforce a one camera free policy, with a second charged at $20 per camera per drive. There is no charge for lenses, however, so we figure we can adapt fairly easily, and tomorrow we’ll take the 100-400 alone, and if need be, the longer lens for the afternoon and the following morning. Our guide said long lenses aren’t necessary, because of the closeness and the forest cover. I expected that, so we should be fine.

Day 2. Gir Forest

We left the lodge in complete darkness, night still fully in charge. One of our jeeps was late to arrive,  and the one I was in parked too close to a cement structure and was stuck, scraping metal, when we tried to leave. It didn’t seem to be an auspicious start, but that was misleading.
We passed through the little town outside the gate, now already hustling with activity in the predawn, checked in, and drove to another check point where we entered the park just as the light began to strengthen – from night to dusk. It was still very, very dark.
Our route inside the park traveled through open teak forest and numerous small hills, cut by ravines and dried stream beds, with the general impression being a very dry place. Doves and songbirds called, and we saw Drongos, Peacocks, and Honey Buzzards, but for the most part the forest was quiet.
A group of buck Spotted Deer were preparing for the rut, when one walking side-long, head tilted to the side in an aggressive, dominant pose, and several scent marked or pawed the earth – backlighted, looking quite nice. Two Blue Bulls, or Nilgai, stood horse-like in the forest, looking far more like a horse than an antelope. We had lion tracks, and Mary had one brief, frustrating encounter with a Lioness, but our morning game drive was slow.

We returned to headquarters for breakfast and then proceeded on our second morning game drive. Foresters had located Lions, and while we waited they walked in to check on their location, and a few minutes later a large Lioness and three cubs, two about one year old, and a female cub about eight months, emerged from a dry wash. They were completely unconcerned, walking towards us and pausing to sniff at a tree. The cats practically surrounded our vehicle, and we had great shots. The cats looked virtually identical to African Lions, and our trip to Gir, regardless of whatever else we see, has been successful.

hPM. We left the lodge at 2:45, a very hot afternoon where, it would seem, nothing would be stirring. In fact, we were told that any lion activity would not take place before 5, but it took an easy 20 minutes or so to sort out permits, get our guide, and drive to the park entrance. Although bird life is relatively sparse, those species we see are fairly approachable, and shortly after starting our drive we had a Rose-ringed Parakeet climb out of a nest hole right beside the game track. Later, our driver stopped and backed up to point out a Changeable Hawk-Eagle that was perched above a water trough, probably waiting for a snake to come to water. We shot some decent images, followed by real close-ups when I asked our driver if we could get closer. He did, to nearly frame-filling distance with a 400mm, and the bird was oblivious to us.
We continued on, finally stopping at a gate house, and park boundary, where we waited. Randy questioned why we were doing so here, as with all the human activity nothing would be about, and a few minutes later a mother Lioness with two tiny cubs walked out of a dry wash, crossing the boundary road and walking directly behind the gate house, where a guard stood on a chair and watched the lions pass (beyond a stone fence) just a few yards away. They disappeared, and the park trackers soon arrived, driving their motorbikes into the area where the lioness had ll
gone. There they found more lions, and the trackers dismounted and went into the forest for a better look. Two Lionesses came through the brush, followed by five six-month old cubs, with the entire pride settling down in a relatively clear area of forest within frame-filling distance (of the cubs) with the 100-400mm lens. The cubs looked out at the road, completely unconcerned by the vehicles that jockeyed for position. Remarkably, the other vehicles didn’t spend much time with the lions, and after getting relatively brief views they drove off. So did we, finally, with our time running out, and on the way back we were rewarded with a brief view of a Leopard. When my vehicle arrived the Leopard was sitting, fairly open though distant, but by the time we positioned ourselves for a possible shot another vehicle arrived, and the Leopard rose and disappeared into the brush. Still, a great way to end the day.

lDay 3. AM, Gir Forest

We left at the usual time, 5:45AM, for a ride through the dark and the awakening town outside of Gir and on to the park headquarters where we met our park guides and headed into the park. Sunrise, officially, as it rounded one of the low hills, was 7:15AM, and prior to that there was not enough light for any shooting. We headed directly to where we had the lioness and cubs yesterday, but they were gone and the forest was still. Our mission, we hoped, was to see a male lion on our last morning in Gir, and still leave the park by 9AM for our drive to our next destination, hopefully in time for an afternoon game drive.
We had no shooting, passing on the usual well-camouflaged Spotted Deer and occasional Sambar Deer, continuing on our route until we were told of a pair of mating Lions somewhere off in the brush. We parked, waiting, and as is usual, I received mixed messages from the guide – that the lions were deep in the brush, meaning we’d not see them, but we’ll wait anyway. Eventually the park foresters drove up on their motor bikes and things looked a bit more encouraging, as their presence often meant that lions were nearby. We waited, and our departure time of 9AM neared, then was passed, as we parked near  a waterhole where male Peacocks, their nuptials feathers bright but still a good foot short of breeding length, passed by on their way to drinking at a cement water hole.
lWe were lucky, and the lions did appear, walking towards the road and passing quite close to our vehicles. The male had a good mane, although shaped a bit differently from African Lions, in that the mane seemed heaviest around the neck and shoulders, and somewhat tapered right behind the head. The lioness led, and the male followed close behind, crossing the road and disappearing into the brush. The encounter lasted only minutes, but with it we concluded a very successful time in Gir, with large cubs, lionesses, cubs, and a mating pair, and a view of a Leopard, too.
At 11AM, after a cooked breakfast, we began our 5 hour drive to our next destination. Starting late, we would not have an afternoon game drive, but with several planned over the next two days Black Bucks, harriers, and desert mammals still ahead, we should be fine.
We arrived at Blackbuck Lodge around 5, time enough to go for a game drive but we passed, unpacking and relaxing after a long day of travel. The lodge, basically catering for one species (blackbuck) and perhaps the Harrier roosts, is spectacular, with spacious rooms, indoor and outdoor showers, TV, internet in the rooms, all the perks. A great location, just a mile from the park, and wonderful landscaping – one of the nicest lodges I’ve been to in India.

bDay 4. Velavadar

Because of our proximity to the entrance of the park we had a cooked breakfast and arrived at the lodge just after sunrise. Blackbucks, a vividly colored Antelope where dominant males sport a black coat dorsally, with a white belly, white ears, and white spectacles, were spread across the grasslands. One albino Blackbuck was among the group, but by the time we entered the park that animal had drifted from sight.
The Blackbuck National Park reminded me of some of our NWRs, with a network of dirt roads that follow elevated dikes, as this area is flooded during the monsoons. Around 6,500 Blackbucks live here, as do Nilgai, Gray Wolves, and rarely seen Jungle Cats and Striped Hyenas.
The Blackbucks were in small herds, with one or more males in attendance. The dominant males have a distinctive strut, with their heads elevated and tilted back so that their spiral horns parallel their back. Their white ears lay flat and down, seeming to be almost droopy, and serious strutters step firmly with each foreleg, although this has been described as ‘mincing,’ these antelope certainly were not. On occasion one or more would run, with some bouncing in a stotting or pronking manner, where all four legs hit the ground at the same time, then popping up, in a bounce. This pronking is thought to be a demonstration of fitness, as the bouncing has little to do with really fast forward travel. Several Blackbucks at an open plain strutted about, kicking up dust and, rarely, engaging in a dust-kicking fight. The nshooting, although often further than we’d wish, was very good, and we did have some close up opportunities as well.

PM. We left at 3:30 for the afternoon drive, hoping to photograph the Harriers that are said to congregate here. Blackbucks were further out than they were in the AM, but we did have one pair of bucks fairly close to the road that were fighting, and two of our vehicles had some shots. A Jungle Cat was sighted by the vehicle ahead of us but we missed it, and only one Montague’s Harrier flew close to us, so we passed on waiting at the roosting site since only five to twenty birds were likely to appear. Two months earlier, 700-800 harriers would have been at the same location. At the end of the day a large herd of male Blackbucks sparred and chased each other in a distant meadow, the sight a mass of horns and silhouettes against a tall grass meadow glowing orange in the setting sun. The shots were distant, but it was a striking image to end the day.

Day 5. Velavadar to Little Rann of Kutch

We left at 7AM for our game drive, and this time I rode with one of the lodge naturalists while Jan and Randy went with our guide, the vehicle I used yesterday. Randy’s vehicle headed in one direction to look for wolves, while my vehicle, and the one Mary was in, headed in another. Shortly after entering the gate we thought we saw a wolf, but it was identified as a dog and we moved on. Feral, or semi-feral dogs are a problem here, and these canines kill Blackbuck. Yesterday, this same field had hundreds of antelope, but today they were scattered and few. We didn’t drive too much further when our guide did spot two Wolves, with just their heads sticking above the high, yellow grasses. They moved off, and Jungle Crows flew in, indicating that the wolves had made a kill. We drove on, hoping that the wolves would come closer, and at one point the pair crossed the road, about 100 yards behind us. We did find it frustrating that the drivers and guides made no effort to back up or get any closer, and perhaps that was so the wolves would continue in the direction they were heading. Still, I thought it would have been prudent, and non-invasive, to back up thirty yards or so to close the distance.
As it was, the two wolves ran across the road, providing a nice view, and then, from a distance paralleled the road for nearly a half mile. Wolves are cursorial animals, ie they run down their prey, and it was amazing to see the distance these two trotting wolves traveled in such a short time. Eventually they moved off into the acacia forest and disappeared.
kRandy’s vehicle had another pair of wolves, from a distance, and we were told that there are around eight wolves that use the park. We had four, in total. I had one of the park guides with us, and although we were told they can be useless, the young man we had actually had great eyes, and spotted a Eurasian Eagle-Owl, twice, that was some distance off and standing in the shade beneath a tree. Even at 80 yards the owl was shy and either flew or hopped deeper into cover as we watched.
Remarkably, and perhaps this was because of the wolves and the feral dog, we had little opportunity to photograph Blackbuck today. A few dark-coated males crossed the road in front of us, but the strutting and fighting and jumping about we had yesterday was history. We did have a nice bull Nilgai, or Blue Bull, with a Drongo bird on its back. Nilgai, India’s largest antelope, look remarkably like a horse, and stand as tall, and can weigh as much, going six hundred pounds or so.
We returned to the lodge at 9, had breakfast, and departed for the Little Rann of Kutch, where we’d spend two nights, photographing the Khur, or Indian Wild Ass, and whatever other wildlife we encounter.

nPM. We arrived in time for a late lunch, our second, as we had chicken and sandwiches on the bus. Lunch, however, featured ice cream, and so was a welcome treat. The lodge, Rann Riders, is wonderfully landscaped, with each room its own cottage, and spacious and well lit. The food, as we found out at dinner, has been the best so far, and perhaps the best of almost any lodge we’ve been to in India.
For our PM drive we headed to the now-drying wetlands, where Common Cranes and Desmile Cranes (SP) were gathered in the shallow bay. We started our drive somewhat confused, as  we drove into a brushy area, circled some bushes, seemingly pointlessly, and then stopped. Our driver got out of the vehicle (all of us rode in one truck for this drive, the most efficient method for guaranteeing sightings) and pointed. We had stopped for a Syke’s Nightjar on a nest, situated in the open beneath a bush and surrounded by dried grasses. Nightjars are always well-camouflaged, belonging to the same group as the Whip-poor-wills of the US, and it was shocking to see out cryptic this bird was, as it sat there, eyes closed to thin slits, only twenty feet away.
We looked, unsuccessfully, for the rare Indian Courser, a terrestrial shorebird, and along the shores took distant views of Black-tailed Godwits, Rusty Pelicans (??), Lesser Flamingos, and more Cranes. At dusk we drove to the lake shore facing the sun, and approached, on foot, the distant cranes as a fireball sun descended behind them. Walking was a bit treacherous, as we were warned, since the shoreline was a drying lakebed and, where still damp, one could sink and get mired. Staying on the white-looking cracked mud was safe, but I did discover, after having my 800mm on a monopod in just one spot, that the monopod had sunk about 6 inches in to the mud, and was quite difficult to extract!
The evening highlight was the flocks of Common Cranes flying in to join those already at the water. Several hundred flew by, circled, and descended against the orange-colored sky and the vivid fireball of the sun. It was a stirring sight, and one that made the afternoon drive to these mudflats worthwhile.

hDay 6. Little Rann of Kutch

We headed to the salt flats after an early breakfast, in surprising cold for this desert region, although we were dealing with wind chill in our open truck. We searched for Desert Fox, and found a den with kits younger and smaller than any our guide had seen before. The two kits presented few views, and as we were about to leave the mother Fox returned, trotting by in the distance, then circling, and dashing into the brush where her den was located. We managed a few shots as she ran by, and afterwards staked out the den but the foxes remained inside and we drove on to look for the Wild Asses.
The salt pans are extensive, spanning miles of flat ground, We found the Asses, and approached reasonably close before the herd started moving. All of us got out of the truck for ground-level shots, and for a few brief moments the herd milled about, kicked, and were animated, before finally settling down and moving off. A lone stallion stood far from the others and I tried approaching him, and found the Ass asurprisingly tolerant – allowing full-frame shots before he started ambled, slowly, towards the distant herd. That herd, meanwhile, visited a waterhole, where Mary, Scott, and Randy got some nice shots as they drank and crossed the pool, providing reflections by doing so. Another tourist jeep was in the area and zoomed along, spooking the Asses, who continued as a herd to distant acacia trees. We left them go, reaffirming that the Asses didn’t mind anyone on foot but were annoyed or cautious around vehicles.

PM. We headed out at 4PM for the 35 minute drive back into the salt flats. We did see more Khar, or Wild Asses, but the herd continually moved away from us and the shooting was poor. Our hope, for the afternoon, was the Desert Fox, although I didn’t have much faith that we’d have success.
On the way, we bogged down in sand, and despite forward and reversing we only succeeded in digging ourselves deeper into the slightly damp sand. Another jeep arrived to help, and between their driver, and several of us pushing, we moved the truck free and continued on our way.
Our ‘tracker,’ who up until now served mainly to put down a step stool for exiting the truck, spotted an Indian Fox in the brush – a fantastic spot on his part. We moved in, and the Fox got up and trotted a short distance, and settled down again. We followed, and the Fox, as we were told, was rather sedate, and unconcerned by our presence. Several times it moved and settled down once again, finally moving into thicker brush to hunt and, as we now had about 50 minutes of light left, we decided to try for the Desert Fox.
fRemarkably, we found the female, sitting several feet away from the brush and the den opening. The Foxes, we were told, are accustomed to vehicles passing by, and provided we keep a low profile the Fox shouldn’t be concerned. We did just that, and so did the Fox, who periodically looked up from her nap, looked about, and settled down to sleep. Finally, the vixen rose, stretched, and trotted parallel to our vehicle, providing for another nice series of shots. Both species of Fox proved very rewarding.
On the way home we saw a small herd of Nilgai galloping across the flats, kicking up dust in the last light of the day. Behind them were two Feral Dogs, racing hard, and seemingly targeting the one young Nilgai in the group. They passed out of sight, the outcome uncertain.
After dinner, as we walked back to our rooms, Scott spotted a small, 5 inch long snake crawling across the pavement. It was a nonvenomous species, but the guide who caught it said it was mildly venomous – perhaps rear-fanged. The snake was probably too small to break the skin if it even tried to bite, and he held the snake bare-handed, but I passed on the offer to hold the snake myself. If you’ve read the book The Snake Charmer you’d know to be cautious. The herpetologist profiled in that book was bitten by a 10 inch long Krait, a venomous species, whose fangs seemingly did not break the skin (but obviously did), and killed the guy in less than 30 hours. I wasn’t taking any chances.

Day 7. Castle Bera and the Bera Rocks

We had a 7:30 breakfast and were loaded and on the road by 8, traveling north from Gujarat into the next state, Rajasthan. The topography changed from the flatlands of Gujarat to a rugged relief of stony mountains, reminding me of some parts of Arizona as we drove by. As we neared our destination our bus faced a dilemma. The final half mile of our travel required a sharp right-angle turn on an incredibly narrow street, one that seemed impossible for the size bus we were using. I asked our guide if he’s done this before and he laughed, saying only with smaller transports, smaller buses. Several locals started giving directions and our driver, and his spotter, slowly backed up and inched forward, with barely inches – quite literally, separating the panels of the bus from the waist-high curb. We made it, an incredible testament to our driver’s skills, and saw we faced another dilemma. The castle had a narrow gate and archway that we had to enter, and once again the squeeze was tight. The locals bent back a metal sign that projected into the road, our driver folded back his mirrors, and somehow we oozed through – truly the eye of a needle!

. We left at 5PM for a short drive to the Bera Rocks, huge boulders of, perhaps, granite (we were told) or sandstone that are split and sheared, looking quite like gigantic kopjes from Tanzania. As many as 60 Leopards are recorded for this area, one of the most unusual and weird habitats we’ve ever photographed big cats in. The landscape is barren, grazed bare from goats and probably sheep, and I suspect the Leopards here feed mainly upon dogs, although goats, sheep, donkeys, and calves are also a part of their diet. Mary’s driver told her, via an interpreter, that the Leopards often hunt around the villages – and there are many – and one Leopard grabbed a human baby but when they baby cried out the Leopard, supposedly realizing its mistake, dropped it and left. A man, sleeping by his cows, was grabbed by the arm and cried out, and again, the Leopard let go and went on. Leopards kill a lot of people in India, and here, with the absence of wild game and the near-certainty that Leopards must hunt close to villages, for domestic livestock and for dogs, bad things are likely to happen. So far, apparently, they have not.
Our three vehicles fanned out on narrow, winding, dusty game tracks that snaked along the boulder outcrops, along railroad lines, and paralleling farm fields. My driver received a phone call, telling him that a Leopard had been spotted, 15 km away, and we turned and raced to the scene. When we arrived, we found jeeps already parked and people walking up one of the rock outcrops to view the Leopard. We quickly followed, following a vague trail that led between and over the rocks, finally arriving at an overlook where, 100 yards or so away, a female Leopard was sitting behind a rock. She was barely visible, as most of her head was obscured by leaves, but otherwise she seemed unconcerned.
We waited, hoping that she would climb out onto the rocks to sun. Our guide, Indie, told us that this Leopardess was very tame and often did just that, and often much closer than our present distance.  We waited, as the sun sank lower and the light drew dimmer.
The sun had set when she finally moved, but instead of stepping out onto a rock she went through the brush and uphill, although she did present herself several times for high ISO, but very nice, shots. The light, however, was so dim that anyone not following the cat with their lens risked not seeing it at all, and even then, autofocus sometimes didn’t work. I was using a Canon DX and I missed one nice sequence when the Leopardess smelled a rock at a cave-like overhang because my AF starting pushing in and out. Nonetheless, we did get shots, and we had a fairly good view of a Leopard on our first day.

Day 7. Bera Rocks

lWe left at 5:30AM, driving a short distance before all of our vehicles stopped for a ‘chai break,’ apparently something of a local tradition. We drank the sweetened tea (milk added) in clay cups – not baked or fired, and afterwards the cubs were simply discarded. Presumably, the clay will be recycled, and we wondered about the sanitation, but no one got sick so apparently all was fine.
We headed to the rocks where a Leopardess with two cubs was seen yesterday. Then, the Leopardess had seen dogs playing nearby, and the dogs chased the cubs. The Leopardess then killed one or both dogs, making her evening meal. This morning we spotted the Leopardess almost immediately, which the guides illuminated with spotlights. Both cubs were active and the three, mother and cubs, played, unfazed by the lights. As the light intensified we switched to natural light, and high ISOs, and the Leopardess retreated into a cave or crevice while the two cubs played, chasing each other, chasing Striped Squirrels, and wrestling. The Indian drivers and guides were moving about more than I’d like, and the cubs looked as if they were bothered by this, with one, and then the second, darting into the rocks. That ended the shoot, but it was a good one.
After breakfast we headed to a lake where we saw Garganney Ducks, Indian Coursers, Ringed Plover chicks, and Little Pratincoles. We had searched for the striking Indian Courser at Kutch, unsuccessfully, but here we found them easily, and were able to approach, with our jeep, to an easy distance for shooting.
On our return to the lodge we stopped at a farm where Indian Fruit Bats roosted. The shooting was somewhat difficult, as most of the bats were against a bright sky but as we photographed, and as time passed, bats moved about, and eventually presented some great views – the best I’ve ever had of Fruit Bats anywhere.

. We headed back to the Leopardess and cubs, leaving at 4PM to insure we wouldn’t miss her. Around 5PM a group of feral Dogs trotted across the kopje rock and we hoped we’d have a repeat of yesterday’s performance. We learned more details of that encounter this evening, from the lodge owner who was there, alone, when it happened.
A group of Dogs appeared, probably following their noses for bones or carrion the leopard might leave behind. The Leopard was on the very top of the kopje, and disappeared when the dogs came near. She circled the dogs, then charged them from below, driving them up the kopje where she eventually caught and killed two. This evening there were five or six dogs, but as they neared the ravine that led upwards to where the Leopard was last seen, the lead dog stopped. The rest, following behind, did likewise, and then all turned and trotted back the way they came.
We had virtually no activity until after sunset, when the cubs came out and played. The light was too low for anything but video, and for once Mary and I were not conflicted as to what to shoot, video or still. The cat, and the cubs, were farther to the right than where we had left them in the morning, and later we were told that the female had become visible again around noon. I’d been a bit frustrated in the morning, as I expected to sit and wait for another half hour, but as is usual here, plans changed. Our driver asked if we could leave, and not wishing to fight the inevitable I agreed. In hindsight, it probably would not have mattered.

Day 8. Raj to Delhi

lAlthough a game drive wasn’t planned, we decided on doing a final drive to try to get more of this, perhaps, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We packed our bags and left them outside our room to be packed while we were away, and planned to meet our bus at 9AM for the drive to Jodpur and our flight to Delhi – a 3.5 hour trip.
It was still 45 minutes or more before sunrise, but the Leopardess and her cubs were perched on the rocks, illuminated by a floodlight from one of the other jeeps. The mother stayed on top, but there she played, chasing the cubs, walking down slope, then up, before finally settling where she was yesterday morning, at the mouth of a ravine or cave. The light was just getting strong enough for shooting when she disappeared.
The cubs, however, periodically reappeared, and as they did yesterday, they climbed down the granite rock face, chasing each other, chasing squirrels, and just exploring. The male cub laid on a rock for ten minutes or more, posing wonderfully, before rising and jumping, once across a crevice, and once, to his regret, into a thorny bush. We thought he’d be stuck there, but eventually he found thick enough branches to hop back to the rock he launched from. The female cub followed much of the same path as the male, but at one point, faced with a twenty foot drop to the rocks below, she really looked as if she was going to try it. The male, in contrast, assessed the scene and almost immediately turned away, but she did not, and we wondered if she’d actually give that huge drop a go. She didn’t.
The shooting lasted until 8AM or so, giving us great light for almost an hour longer than yesterday. The opportunity was incredible, as even in Africa it is rare to have a full hour or so of unobstructed views of Leopards playing, chasing, and posing. For India, it could hardly get much better than this.
We headed on to the airport, extremely pleased with the results of our scouting trip, pre-tiger trip, to Western India. We did great with all our target species – Asiatic Lion, Blackbuck, Desert and Indian Foxes, Wild Asses, Gray Wolf, Indian Courser, Desomille and Common Cranes, and Asiatic Leopard – and we were pleased, hugely, with the variety and quality of the lodging. Each location was different, and all were fine, with some over-the-top in quality and service. As I write this we’re on the National Highway headed to the airport where, in a few hours, we’ll meet the new group for the next leg, the Tiger and Wildlife of India Photo Safari. We can’t wait.