Article by: Sushil Chikane
Cleopatra, they call her! The young, bold leopard from Jhalana Leopard Sanctuary in Jaipur, India. Born to Flora, she has now grown into a young independent leopard that is establishing her territory in zone 2 of the park, even if it is at the cost of fighting her sister.
On my recent visit to Jhalana, I had the privilege to spend some time this young leopard and observe some very unusual leopard behaviour. It was a hot afternoon drive in Jhalana. Temperature in the park rose to 42 Degree Celsius. We drove with no sign of the big cats. It was then that a flock of Indian Peafowl paused their parade near the only bush in an open grassland. They stared relentlessly at the bush. They surveyed it. And then a white tail tip moved inside the undergrowth. The birds went into a frenzy. There she was, Cleopatra. Resting in the shade of the bush, away from the scorching heat. We waited there, our eyes glued to her movements. But for hours nothing happened. Then, the sun started disappearing behind the Dhonk trees on the ridge of the Aravalli.
Her desperation made her take few more chances with the squirrel. But nothing in the end. The frustrated Cleopatra then sat on the branch on the same tree that the squirrel was on and rested till it got dark.
I find myself extremely lucky to have witnessed this and even more so as I could photograph the moment and get both the animals in the frame.