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Old 27th May 2011, 18:11   #1
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Default A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

I wanted to share this little story with everyone here:

I had heard about wild cats during innumerable visits to our place in Himachal, which is about 30 kms above Shimla. But, as luck would have it I never got a chance to see these creatures in person [except for the zoos: which I hate]. But, the stories never ceased. Some mornings I would wake up to find our dog missing [ its happened 8 times!] and was told the cheetah took it
Somehow, even though I believed it, I could not imagine it unfold. We learnt our lessons, kept our dogs indoors at night and the stories died along with quite a few cats.

A few years later:
On a cold dark night I was returning from Shimla. The time was around 2am. With the windows rolled down, I was enjoying the pure air. As I was crossing the Deodar forest in Kufri, which for the uninitiated is the worlds second densest Deodar forest after Amazon, I absolutely did not expect what was about to unfold.

After taking a blind left, I came to a screeching halt as there was a fully grown snow leopard right in my path. My eyes almost popped out in surprise. A part of me wanted to step on the gas and make him shoo away. The other part however, was enjoying every bit of it. He lazily came close, his gleaming eyes fixed to mine all the time. My head drew a blank and my eyes betrayed me. I think he could sense the fear in my eyes. As I observed him, I could sense his vulnerability, his fear of all things human. The heat emanating from the car was probably what made him walk away.

As I sat there, I realized I was sweating and did not drive for a couple of minutes. I kept thinking about the snow leopard, his beautiful spots, his enormous size and still his fear for us.

I trudged away, shrugging at the way we have made these creatures vanish; Well almost.

There are a couple of reasons why I shared this story:
1. I want to make the drivers on this forum realize the importance of preserving roadsides, they are not dumps. I know most people do. Also, to encourage people to drive in Himachal, its an experience in itself.
2. I wanted to know about similar experiences from fellow BHPians, I know you guys will have a few .

P.S. : Did not click any pics, for obvious reasons! Don't have pics of the jungle either, maybe someone here can share it.
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Old 27th May 2011, 18:19   #2
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Default re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Snow Leopard, man oh Man!! You are really must be a lucky person. People spend months looking for one and came back without seeing a glimpse of it. One of the most illusive (and very beautiful) creatures. Wish you had some photographs but I can understand how it must be to feel to see that majestic animal in close quarters.
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Old 27th May 2011, 18:29   #3
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Default re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

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Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Snow Leopard, man oh Man!! You are really must be a lucky person. People spend months looking for one and came back without seeing a glimpse of it. One of the most illusive (and very beautiful) creatures. Wish you had some photographs but I can understand how it must be to feel to see that majestic animal in close quarters.
Photography was the last thing on my mind! Its rare, but if you are brave enough there is always the jungle and the night waiting for you.
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Old 27th May 2011, 18:32   #4
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Default re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

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After taking a blind left, I came to a screeching halt as there was a fully grown snow leopard right in my path. My eyes almost popped out in surprise.
Join the list!

The exact same thing happened with us when my folks and I were headed to Shimla. This was in early march '09 so there was still fog. As a result, we'd left Gurgaon only by 2pm and were "almost" at Shimla by 11pm.

During the last few hair-pin turns just before you hit Shimla, I took a huge blind turn and as the road straightened up, the headlights focussed on a large animal.

At first, I thought it was a dog; then the size didn't add up. Typical of India, I thought it was just random cattle. It was only when the headlight focussed completely on the animal that I realized it was a leopard! Oh, that majestic animal.

Within a second, I slowed down and I alerted my parents and we must've had a nice close look at the animal for 2-3 seconds when it looked at us straight in the eye. I asked dad to take a pic but guess all we cared about was having a nice look! It then turned and disappeared into the darkness.

After 15min, we stopped at a dhaba for some food and narrated our incident to the cook. He's like, "it is a very normal thing. A large no. of spot a leopard during late night drives". He mentioned a particular incident where a car stalled so the occupants could keep watching and the leopard climbed atop the vehicle to attack it.

It is one helluva experience!

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Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Snow Leopard, man oh Man!! You are really must be a lucky person. People spend months looking for one and came back without seeing a glimpse of it. One of the most illusive (and very beautiful) creatures. Wish you had some photographs but I can understand how it must be to feel to see that majestic animal in close quarters.
Night drive to Shimla is the answer! Trust me, in the few seconds that you get to watch the animal in front of you, you just keep looking without moving an inch. Getting the cam just doesn't strike you!
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Old 27th May 2011, 19:50   #5
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Default re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Wow, a night spotting of a jungle cat! It sounds like one of these times where we end up being in a real 1:1 - we dont notice anything else except the magnificent animal. It is almost hypnotising in a way, isnt it?!

I can imagine it must be nerve wracking to be in a situation like that in their territory. These cats are pretty intimidating even when we see them in national reserves etc. Here their swagger must be manifold
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Old 28th May 2011, 16:15   #6
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Default re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Mind blowing dude! Once on our way back from nanital me and my family saw a big snake almost 10 feet long at the side of the road and we were so exited to see it that we stopped and had a nice look at it for 10 hole minutes.
So, i guess what i am trying to say is i can imagine the thrill that you must have felt seeing a SNOW LEOPARD on the road comparing it to what i felt seeing just a snake.
Dude you have just encouraged me to visit corbett national park this summer or just wonder off to the roads of shimla at night, LOL
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Old 29th May 2011, 07:45   #7
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Talking re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ra'ul M View Post
I wanted to share this little story with everyone here:

I had heard about wild cats during innumerable visits to our place in Himachal, which is about 30 kms above Shimla. But, as luck would have it I never got a chance to see these creatures in person [except for the zoos: which I hate]. But, the stories never ceased. Some mornings I would wake up to find our dog missing [ its happened 8 times!] and was told the cheetah took it
Somehow, even though I believed it, I could not imagine it unfold. We learnt our lessons, kept our dogs indoors at night and the stories died along with quite a few cats.

A few years later:
On a cold dark night I was returning from Shimla. The time was around 2am. With the windows rolled down, I was enjoying the pure air. As I was crossing the Deodar forest in Kufri, which for the uninitiated is the worlds second densest Deodar forest after Amazon, I absolutely did not expect what was about to unfold.

After taking a blind left, I came to a screeching halt as there was a fully grown snow leopard right in my path. My eyes almost popped out in surprise. A part of me wanted to step on the gas and make him shoo away. The other part however, was enjoying every bit of it. He lazily came close, his gleaming eyes fixed to mine all the time. My head drew a blank and my eyes betrayed me. I think he could sense the fear in my eyes. As I observed him, I could sense his vulnerability, his fear of all things human. The heat emanating from the car was probably what made him walk away.

As I sat there, I realized I was sweating and did not drive for a couple of minutes. I kept thinking about the snow leopard, his beautiful spots, his enormous size and still his fear for us.

I trudged away, shrugging at the way we have made these creatures vanish; Well almost.

There are a couple of reasons why I shared this story:
1. I want to make the drivers on this forum realize the importance of preserving roadsides, they are not dumps. I know most people do. Also, to encourage people to drive in Himachal, its an experience in itself.
2. I wanted to know about similar experiences from fellow BHPians, I know you guys will have a few .

P.S. : Did not click any pics, for obvious reasons! Don't have pics of the jungle either, maybe someone here can share it.
Dear Rahul,
You are lucky to have gone through this great great experience. I have been a member of WWF and still am a avid Bird watcher (Only of Feathered kind ! !) Snow leopard is a very shy and elusive creature his above behavior is very surprising and you have been really lucky. I am very happy know about your experience.
Rgds
Aashish..
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Old 30th May 2011, 10:12   #8
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashish1965 View Post
Dear Rahul,
You are lucky to have gone through this great great experience. I have been a member of WWF and still am a avid Bird watcher (Only of Feathered kind ! !) Snow leopard is a very shy and elusive creature his above behavior is very surprising and you have been really lucky. I am very happy know about your experience.
Rgds
Aashish..
I am I guess. But I have seen my fair share of animals, some of which I cant even recognize as I am not too well informed.
Snow leopards and most other big cats are pretty shy, but with no munchies around they are forced out of their comfort zone.
My ultimate dream is to see a jaguar, but I am not sure if there are any in India. Maybe you can tell me some place where there are chances

Quote:
Originally Posted by varunsonu View Post
Mind blowing dude! Once on our way back from nanital me and my family saw a big snake almost 10 feet long at the side of the road and we were so exited to see it that we stopped and had a nice look at it for 10 hole minutes.
So, i guess what i am trying to say is i can imagine the thrill that you must have felt seeing a SNOW LEOPARD on the road comparing it to what i felt seeing just a snake.
Dude you have just encouraged me to visit corbett national park this summer or just wonder off to the roads of shimla at night, LOL
Excited to see a 10 ft snake ! Did you get a chance to click any pics?
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Old 30th May 2011, 11:53   #9
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

That was a nice encounter,but are you sure it was a snow leopard,and not a normal one?

I almost came across one on 23rd April 2011 near Tirthan Valley in himachal(missed spotting it by a few seconds).
A leopard was after a flock of about 600 sheep which were roaming around in that area.
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Old 30th May 2011, 12:33   #10
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

You are extremely lucky to spot a snow leopard, I have seen a program in National Geography where they spend months to film this elusive and shy animal in the wild.

I was lucky to spot leopard during couple of my drives through the forests of South India.
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Old 30th May 2011, 12:39   #11
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

You are a lucky lucky man my friend.

For the rest of us, there's google
Snow leopard sighting in Ladakh (February 2011)! - India Travel Forum | IndiaMike.com
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Old 30th May 2011, 13:25   #12
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

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My ultimate dream is to see a jaguar, but I am not sure if there are any in India.
Come to Bangy my friend
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Old 30th May 2011, 13:37   #13
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Actually we had a lot of chances to click photos but it just didn't strike any one of us to take out the camera from the bag. As i said we got really excited.
and the length i told is approximate. it must be between 8 to 10 feet.
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Old 30th May 2011, 14:35   #14
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

@ra'ul: Lucky you!! It is not easy to even catch a glimpse of a snow leopard. They are probably the most elusive and endangered of all the big cats.

Also there are no cheetahs in India! Now! The Asiatic Cheetah has been hunted to extinction in India. There are chances of Cheetahs being introduced back into India from Iran.

Also there are no Jaguars in India. They belong to the same genus as the Leopard. However they are found mainly in Central and South America.

good one, Jaguar!!
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Old 30th May 2011, 14:37   #15
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Default Re: A hair raising experience - Encounter with a snow leopard!

Well in the distant past ( 1990 ) i was driving a bajaj matador delivery van to our distributor. It was a forest route proceeding to Virajpet from Mysore. We were happily joking and listening to songs from kayamat se kayamat. Suddenly a old cheetah leaped across the road in a slow motion. It missed a heart beat of mine and my colleague too was stunned. But it all happened so split second it was like a cricket bouncer swayed and missed. It still brings an awe in my when i recollect this incident never i have seen a cheetah or leopard jumping across the road right in front of vehicle thereafter. It is experience of a lifetime. Good to know you were staring into eyes of the snow leopard.
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