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The Chameleon that ate a Deer

Leopard, Kabini

A leopard can’t change colour. Period. And we’ve always been told he can’t change his spots. Yet he qualifies as the Chameleon of the Big Cat family. The reason isn’t hard to see…he is! Trying to spot a leopard, when he doesn’t want to be seen, is like looking for one particular needle in a family reunion of porcupines. He is a master of stealth, guile and animal cunning, and doesn’t just merge into the background, but becomes the tapestry itself. While primarily a nocturnal hunter, this explains why he’s more successful at daytime hunting than his bigger cousin, the tiger. He can blend in with even the scantiest of scrub, and remain unnoticed till it’s time to pounce on that fat, juicy deer. Good sort of guy to have around, if you run a detective agency, we must say. For someone who loves the nightlife, he’s hardly a party animal, and much prefers doing his own thing. This could have something to do with the fact that he’s so hard to spot, even by other feline fashionistas. Romantic interludes are occasional, more functional than romantic, and don’t even include a candle light dinner for two. He prefers to dine alone, preferably in a room with a view, where attitude meets altitude, and sets his dinner table on the nearest treetop. After all, he’s done all the hard work dragging that heavy Chital stag up the tree, and with the appetite he’s worked up, he’s hardly in the mood to share. All said and done, if you, perchance, meet a shy leopard, do tell him about all the nice things you’ve read. And you might just discover leopards can change colour, especially when they blush.

Photograph: Giri Cavale Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy



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