Bera – Believe it or Not
Spotting the spotted feline can be a breeze if you visit Bera, Rajasthan. The small village and it’s surrounding forests and hillocks of the Aravallis are a haven to uncountable leopards.
A tiny village in Rajasthan, Bera is surrounded by forests where leopards roam free. The river Jowai flows along the village and it’s surroundings, with the Jowai Dam built on the river, a home to some of the biggest crocodiles ever seen in the Indian subcontinent. Unknown by both locals and tourists, the wildlife enthusiast can go wildlife spotting freely, but with caution, as the area is pretty remote and secluded. Bera is very accommodating – if luck persists you get to see the leopards just sitting on the rocks and sunbathing for an hour or so just posing for the perfect photo opportunity.
Leopards are said to be one of the toughest animals to spot, and contrary to popular belief, tigers are actually easier to meet. Bera is not just home to a few leopards who have lost their way, the forest and its surrounding area is teeming with the spotted feline.
Over four safaris during my two nights stay at Leopards Lair Bera (a highly recommended property), I was fortunate enough to spot a mother leopard with her three cubs. At a little distance, I could clearly see them walking along a ridge – stopping in between, playing on trees, and showing their love to one another in a way only a mother and her children can. As the sun set and they walked into the dark of the forest, my guide pointed out to us two eyes in the distance trained on the mother and her cubs, like two diamonds shining in the spotlights trained on them. They were the shining intense eyes of a male leopard on a peak. Even from a distance, they shone like stars.
During our first safari, we were checking the few hillocks wherein these leopards have their caves, when our driver cum guide, Natwar Singh spotted a female climbing down the hillock and came running to the vehicle saying “woh Dekho woh Dekho”. For the first few seconds, we couldn’t even spot the location where she was sitting, as the rocks make a perfect camouflage for them. Though it was a short sighting we were really thrilled. The next day we left the resort at 6.30am in the chilling winter wind, covering up as much as possible, and went to a place called Jagtalla wherein a female was sighted with her three cubs of around four months. We waited for the first rays of the sun for her to come out with her cubs. She sat on the rocks for almost forty-five minutes giving us time to capture images of her and her cubs in all possible moods. We returned to the same spot in the evening and saw her with her cubs again, but this time she was very alert. We were informed by the locals that a male was around since afternoon. We experienced the altercation that followed as the sun was setting down. The huge male started approaching the cave and the brave lady, in order to save her cubs, had a fight with the male and retreated inside her cave, limping from her wounds. She was injured but didn’t allow the male to enter the cave. We returned to our resort hoping to see her the next morning, but alas, she was not there the next morning. The local shepherds said that most probably she had moved from the current location to a hillock behind in order to save her cubs from the male. I wish that she regains her territory and would love to see her cubs.
The forests are also home to hyenas, hares, foxes and birds like pelicans, greylag geese, robin accentors, demoiselle cranes, bar-headed geese and Indian partridges, and many more.
What is the probability of your chance at spotting leopards when you visit Bera? My host, Thakur Devi Singh Ji, proudly mentions of a 100 per cent record for his guests. As hosts, Thakur Devi Singh Ji and his wife Devyami Singh Ji were awesome. We were even invited for a dinner on the first night at their Haveli! It was an honour to be with one who is so passionate about the leopards of Bera.
In spite of such a unique presence of wildlife, there is an area of concern for the leopards of Bera. The construction work going beside the hillocks for the double railway track between Jaipur and Mount Abu as well as the North-West Express corridor connecting North to JNPT are major causes of worry. This may result in these leopards shifting their bases from here to some other locations due to the excessive disturbances which will occur due to the expressway.
Cover Photo: Cubs playing under the watchful eyes of their mother.
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