“Bear” With Us

It was our first drive in Kanha national Park in the April of  2012 and our friend Kumar with his apparent “sixth sense”kanha national park
predicted that we would  see a tiger, a sloth bear and a leopard (of course not exactly in that order) on this brief safari and  all of us in the car go “sure thing Nostradamus” (but secretly wished it would happen but we knew the chances were ermmmm “ZILCH”…

Anyhow, Kumar was convinced his prediction would come true for which I (Shaurya) even offered to change my name if it did … (little did I know that in hindsight it would be a terrible idea) When the jungle welcomed us back with a beautiful sighting of a tigress leaping out of the water after being chased by the gaur an alarm bell went off in our heads but yet we were absolutely sure that the sloth bear or leopard sightings would never happen.

Then 15 minutes later, we struck black gold … naaaahhh not oil but a SLOTH BEAR !!! The expression  Kumar had on his face was extremely priceless… he was more shocked than even we were and was wishing he had bought a lottery ticket or was at the tables in Vegas.

At the first glance it seemed as if a gaur that had wandered on to the road but as we drove closer, towards it, we realized we could not have been more wrong. It was handsome, young SLOTH BEAR!!!. Sloth Bears are usually nocturnal, shy and are therefore very rare to see. This one however, was quite a bold fellow, going about his business as if we didn’t exist. Only when he stood up did we realize how tall and big he truly was. It felt as if a scene from “THE JUNGLE BOOK” had come alive right in front of our eyes when the bear was digging for ants and berries and scratching his back against a tree.

So 2 out of 3 done and there was absolutely no way we were going to spot a leopard as the light was fading rapidly we were already on our way out of the park. Suddenly, our car screeches to a halt and as we stared in sheer amazement, there he was, a beautiful male leopard, drinking water from a watering hole, less than 1 kilometre from the gate. We were all speechless, taken aback by all the incredible sightings we had that evening pinching ourselves to check if it was a dream.