Saturday, 7 March 2015

Borrowed from the night

There is an hour in Tadoba, after dawn, which is borrowed from the night. Now all the animals of shade and darkness meet the dawn souls on their way to the day. Now still the chital shriek, telling the day that deep in the forest night's tiger still walks. Plum-headed parakeets dart from their roosts, dropping their bright calls to earth, and peacocks waft from the trees, sweeping the dust with their great night-starred tails.

Chital bucks, calm now the unseen tiger is gone, strut mechanical and bow their antler-heavy heads in show, moaning gruffly to their tear-eyed females. Nearby the sow-eared sambar skip on swift hooves across the rocky track.

This new day is full of noise: red-vented bulbuls burble happily and magpie-robins cut the cool air with their sharp, lovely talk. Grey junglecocks call shrilly all around and over dry percussive leaves a spurfowl scuttles.

The wild dogs dance in this dawn light too, four of them madly weaving in a glade, like shoaling ocean fish. And stately walks a leopard through the groves, its dapple and the bamboos' dapple and the dawn's dapple melting and melding into one.

All this we see and hear and feel and touch in this rare hour borrowed from the night, including, yes, the first Indian leopard of my year and of my Big Cat Quest.

Cats seen in 2015
cheetah Acinonyx jubatus fearonii            3
serval Leptailurus serval serval                3
leopard Panthera pardus suahelicus        2
lion Panthera leo nubica                          78
snow leopard Panthera uncia                   3
jungle cat Felis chaus                               1
tiger Panthera tigris tigris                          1
leopard Panthera pardus fusca                1

No comments:

Post a Comment