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The Family Tree


Leopard, Kabini -


Brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, cousins; you’ll find every branch of the Leopard family living, quite literally, on a branch…totally at home in a comfy tree-house in Kabini. But that isn’t the only reason why leopards tower above the rest in the big cat stakes. They are considered the most complete cats as they are adaptive to even the harshest of habitats, from semi-arid deserts to evergreen rainforests. This versatility is the main reason why they have the densest population, even in the forests of Kabini, where they share space with predatory Tigers and Dholes. But since they’re the only climbers in the lot, they are never cramped for style, living as they do a few metres above the competition. What’s unusual, though, is that normally leopards and tigers don’t share territory, but the density of trees and undergrowth, and the sheer variety of prey ensure a relatively easy co-existence. After all, whenever the leopard feels threatened, he knows he can always leave the vertically challenged tiger behind and climb into his upper-deck sanctuary. The lord of his arboreal manor, the Kabini Leopard spends a large part of his life in his tree-house, chilling out, playing, eating and sleeping. Apart from his leafy lounge, he also has a well stocked larder where he drags in and hangs his kills, some of which may weigh twice his body weight. This is where his sheer strength and long claws come in handy, enabling him to haul his meal effortlessly up. Dinner is mostly his favourite serving of Langur, though occasionally, it could be a Spotted Deer, the loser, as it were, of the ‘Duel of the Spots’. Perhaps the Langur and the Deer could have done well to heed the old jungle saying that, in Kabini, a harmless looking tree may have a bite that’s worse than its bark!


Photograph: Vikram Huilgol Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

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