Monday, January 28, 2013

Gir - Gujarat Series


Gir


After many days of anxiety and just a day before we were to reach the place we were finally given confirmation of our reservations at the Sinh Sadan, arguably the most sought-after  place in Gir for the budget traveler. The rest was a piece of cake because they (at the safari reservation office) give preference to the guests at Sinh Sadan. We went on two safaris and what memorable ones they turned out to be!!
The first one – evening – was very good with sightings of a lion and then two lionesses though they were all happily dozing with dozens of people gaping at them. The real prize was just a half hour before the trip ended when we rounded a steep bend in the track with my constant refrain of ‘I want to see a leopard’ when lo and behold, right in front of us barely a dozen yards away was this handsome male, seconds away from making a kill. He had his eyes on this little fawn which seemed to have lost its mom… Unfortunately for the leopard, the disturbance from a couple of gypsies full of tourists diverted his attention for that split second allowing the fawn to get away.

All photographs are courtesy my partner... 


The Leopard

Waiting for the kill
The next morning saw us all padded up with layers upon layers to counter the bone-chilling cold of the morning safari… not to much avail. We were practically frozen in our seats!! The guide for this safari, a different fellow from the last one, was very proactive… so much so that I got uncomfortable when his comments showed blatant disregard to rules… Fortunately, there was no occasion during the drive to forestall his enthusiasm before he strayed into no-no territory! Usually the non-dominant lions are loners and the lionesses raise the cubs in prides with just a single dominant male. This probably being courting season, we were lucky to come upon not just one but two pairs of lions out courtingJ It all would have been wonderful except the fact that we had a lion and a lioness walk within a metre of the gypsy... almost giving me a heart attack! And all this right on the main track! These big cats are not to be trifled with… one realizes their raw strength, the potential danger and unpredictability only up close. Till then, the thrill of a sighting overpowers all caution.



Marking his territory


The Lioness...


Up close.... too close!!


Courting!!


The King of the Jungle



Spotted deer - female

Spotted Deer - male

Sambhar - Male


The little one - Spotted Deer

The cattleherd's Camel from one of the two villages within the forest

Collared Scops Owl

Yellow crowned Woodpecker

Brown capped pygmy Woodpecker

Yellow footed green Pigeon

All the same, the two safaris left us spellbound and very much under the spell of this unique forest and it’s denizens!! Hats off to Gujarat for its enviable record at Gir which probably is the strictest reserve I have seen for any big cats... and I have seen many. I hope the other (read TIGER) reserves take a leaf out of its book too. May the lions keep roaring and the leopards thriving out there…….