Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Shyam


There are times, after six weeks in the bush, in snowy tents, in cramped jeeps, in buses on potholed roads, when, though utterly thrilled with the wildlife you are seeing and the landscapes in which it lives, your mind is dull with tiredness, your fingers stumble over the keys, and you have no coherent words for the marvels which the forest daily shares with you. This evening is such a time.

I am thrilled because this evening the rare, beautiful Asiatic lion joined the long list of cats I have already seen on my Big Cat Quest, in the form of Shyam an eight or nine-year-old male who, with his brother Ram (both of them named after incarnations of the righteous deity Vishnu), shares a range in Gir Sanctuary and National Park with three females and their cubs. I am thrilled because all three of my jeeps saw this calm, powerful cat very well and all of my clients are delighted. I am thrilled because we are in the company of my brilliant, generous and energetic colleague Manisha Rajput (much more on her in the coming days) who knows Gir's every bird and tree and is dearly loved by its people.

And I am thrilled because I have many things to tell of the Asiatic lion, of its dusty home, and of the human culture with which it shares Sasan Gir. But the telling will have to wait. Tomorrow I will be up again at five and have two more long hot safaris. For now I must sleep, content that Asiatic lions tread the crisp teak leaves on the forest floor around our clean, friendly camp, content that they have joined my Big Cat Quest, content that you are reading and following my long, hot, cold, dusty, tiring journey around the world in pursuit of these magnificent animals. Thank you.




The qualities of the Asiatic lion extolled in Gujarati

The incomparably wonderful Manisha


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                               2
tiger Panthera tigris tigris                          13
leopard Panthera pardus fusca                4
lion Panthera leo persica                          1


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