Apoorva Joshi

PhD student - Michigan State University; Independent journalist - environment, science and international news.

Fellow - International League of Conservation Writers.

Member - Society of Environmental Journalists, International Communication Association.

Pench Tiger Reserve

A forest located on the border on Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. A tiger reserve shared between the two states. Pench-Maharashtra, and Pench-Madhya Pradesh are two parts of the Pench Tiger Reserve. We visited the part in Madhya Pradesh from the 14th to the 19th of May 2008. A group of 53 people. A students camp with us 4 instructors. A forest known for its recent Leopard sightings and known to be home to that famous striped cat called the Tiger too. We were staying at the Heaven's Garden resort which is about 10-15minutes from the main gate of the reserve. 9 gypsies and one reserve. Our very first ride led us to that one animal that makes me jump in my seat and my own skin!! That rarely seen quiet rosetted Feline. The Leopard. The first ride to Piwarthadi led us to a huge male Leopard, who we spotted mainly because of something that was glistening somewhere into the bushes. Using the binoculars, we realized it was a killed Spotted Deer (Chital) stag. Moved the binocs to the left, and realized the chap who'd killed the Deer was sitting there in the most royal of positions! Mr.Leopard. A gorgeous golden coat with beautiful black rosettes and a constant stare. Sitting on a pile of leaves behind a fallen tree and looking intently at his kill and suspiciously at us! My previous experience (as mentioned in the previous article) with a Leopard lasted 75 seconds. I was completely preapred to understand if this guy got up and left at the 76th second. But it was 48minutes and he was still there!! What a record!! We left the place at the 57th minute. In the afternoon, once we were back in the reserve, we headed right for the Leoaprd spot. And there he was!! Kill half eaten, lazing around royally on his pile of leaves, behind the same fallen tree, moving his tail up and down waving the flies off, ocassionally lifting up his head, and lying down again! This guy, had eaten so much, he couldnt even get up and walk!! Ive never known of a Leopard who tolerated human presence for 2 hours!! 57 minutes in the morning, and another 46 in the evening!! I Still can't believe this!! It's been a fabulous day!!! And throughout the rest of the camp, EVERY other gypsy saw at least 1 Tiger. There were 2 Tigers spotted totally, and 3 sightings. My gypsy, however, did NOT see a Tiger, as in, the campers all did. The only person who didn't, was me! Everyone there was stunned because I wasnt depressed or sad at not having seen a Tiger. I dont think anyone understood the importance of that Leopard sighting. Someone waits 7 Loooooooooong years and then finally sees a flash of a Leopardess, and then, within the next 5days, sees another Leopard for 103minutes!! That ENTIRE 7 yr time seems so worth the wait!! That sighting lasted me an entire camp!! Not seeing a Tiger did not put me into depression! Because I was way too happy!! Nothing could beat that sighting! (Is what I thought... until the next camp came along!!) :) Life just keeps getting better and better right now!! :) Happiness prevails.. and now, we go to the next article. :) Exit- Pench Tiger Reserve briefing.. proceed to Rajasthan!

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