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Old 16th March 2013, 16:49   #1
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Default Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

I love to photograph leopards in the wild more than any other mammal in India. I have been to numerous national parks down south and have had luck photographing the spotted cat quite often. But the terrain and background in all the images was getting a bit monotonous and as soon as I saw some leopard images from Rajasthan, I along with a couple of my photographer friends decided to make a trip there to try my luck of making leopard images against the background of rocky hillocks and scrubland vegetation.

With no other predators around, the leopards are the apex killers out there and is often seen bathing in the warm Rajasthan sun on the numerous rocky outcrops.

The place I decided to visit was Bera, which is around 160 Kms from Udaipur/Jodhpur. It seemed a bit trite but the resort where I had put up was named Leopard’s Lair. I first heard about this place is 2010 but ignored it as people said that they set up baits for the leopards etc.
So we called up the owner of the resort, who confirmed that they have now stopped putting baits and just did jeep rides to the areas frequented by the leopards.

After a 3hr drive from Udaipur, we reached Bera and found it to be a small town with narrow lanes, rustic houses, ancient havelis and old school jeeps which made the perfect setting of an 80’s hindi movie.

The resort is run by Thakur Devisingh and his son with the help of 2/3 local guys who do everything from cooking, driving the safari jeeps to giving Thakur a massage.

Day 1

After a delicious Rajasthani lunch, we started off our first safari in a modified Kaiser Willy’s jeep with Thakur’s man Friday (Natwar). After scanning the numerous caves and traversing through the mesmerizing terrain for a couple of hours we finally sighted a female leopard with her cubs. The locals fondly know her as “Zara”. They were quite far off and light was fading fast, Natwar switched on the flashlight and started tracking the leopards. I managed to get a few images with the spot light and was thrilled to see my first wild leopard in Rajasthan albeit in artificial light.

Images from Day 1


Zara in the flashlight


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Zara and her cubs heading away



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Day 2

Next morning, we headed off again at around 7am and after around an hour or so we saw the dominant male of the area, who is known as “Charger””, the father of Zara’s three cubs.
He was resting atop a rock, least bothered with our presence and enjoying the early morning sun. After thirty minutes or so,, he decided to head down towards us and eventually went into a cave nearby, giving us quite a few photo opportunities.

We headed back to the resort and after a scrumptious breakfast with samosas, dhoklas etc. started to make plans for the evening safari with Thakur.

At around 430pm, we headed out on another safari to a different area. Soon, we saw a male leopard well camouflaged against the vegetation pretty far away. This one was called “Cut Ear”, he was Charger’s nemesis and the two had been fighting with each other for territory for quite a while. This guy had his right ear slit and multiple battle scars over his face. Thakur knew where his lair was and we waited near it hoping to see it at a better proximity.

Images from Day 2


Charger atop rocky outcrop


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Coming down towards us


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Cut-Ear along the caves
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Reaching his resting point


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Looking at us from his vantage point (for the photographers, this is an extreme lowlight ISO 8000 image)


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Day 3

Another morning and this time it was decided that we would head to an area called Devagiri, which is around 8kms from Bera. Thakur got the information that a leopard had killed a cow from the nearby grazing grounds the previous night.
We scanned the area for a while and soon spotted the male leopard, resting at the entrance of a cave. This one was called “Devaraj”. It lived right next to a temple and often the locals saw it close by, but fortunately it has never attacked anyone till date. Once a while it killed cattle but the villagers are unperturbed and never tried to harm the leopard in any way.

Evening we went to area which is the territory of Zara’s family. Thakur received information that Zara, Charger and two of the cubs were seen entering a cave in the morning. So at around 5pm we decided to park ourselves some distance away from this cave. Soon enough an inquisitive cub peeped at us from behind a rock at the entrance of the cave. Next it was Chargers’s turn and within a few minutes Zara led her two cubs out from the cave and across the field. By this time it had become almost dark and it was quite difficult to shoot images but the sight was wonderful.

Images from Day 3


Devaraj at the temple stairs


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Wide perspective (Can you spot the leopard)


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Zara and her cubs coming out of the caves and heading out to the fields for kill


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The last glance

Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue-_dsm5334.jpg
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Old 16th March 2013, 17:04   #2
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Day 4
Again, we just waited around the cave where we saw the cubs the previous evening and sure enough at around 730am, the cubs came out one by one. We had a kept a camera with remote trigger nearby and the cubs were quite curious about it.
Right on the adjacent hillock, we saw there father “Charger” keeping a watch but “Zara” was not to be seen.

Thus, ended our memorable trip to Bera with leopard sightings in each and every safari. We named the bravest of Zara’s cub as Natwarlal (endorsed by Thakur) after our entertaining guide Natwar who refused to take us back to the resort till we saw a leopard in each of our jeep rides.

Images from Day 4


Cubs coming out of the cave one by one
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Cub portraits


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The curious cat jumping to reach the camera


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Playing with the camera


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Charger keeping an watchful eye


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Some creative images:

Langur silhouette

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Leopard motion blur

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Leopard silhouette

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Rim lit run

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Spotlight

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The last sunset

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Some pertinent info:

How to reach?
180 km from Jodhpur and 150 km from Udaipur by road and nearest rail station is Jawai Bandh.

Where to stay?
We stayed at Leopard’s Lair, run by Mr.Devisingh
]BERA,Distt : Pali - Marwar, Rajasthan, India
Mobile : +91-8003979964 , +91-8239365771



Best time to visit?
October to March

What else apart from leopards?
Birding , Crocodiles near the dam, trekking, off roading (if you have your own SUV), outdoor picnic, village walks etc.

Camera gear used?
Canon DSLR’s and lenses. Bean bag support on jeep.

KINDLY “PM” FOR ANY OTHER INFORMATION
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Old 16th March 2013, 17:14   #3
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

TADOBA ANDHARI TIGER RESERVE


Just when I was about to leave Bera, a close friend of mine called me from Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and said that there have been some great tiger sightings over the last few days. I decided to drop in at Tadoba for a couple of days as I had seen a lot of tiger images from Tadoba in recent months.

Reached Tadoba from Nagpur (Jodhpur-Mumbai-Nagpur) at around 11pm and prepared for the early morning drive at 6am next day, before hitting the sack for a much needed slumber.
Now, a lot of travelogues are here in TBHP from Tadoba, hence I am not going to write much about the place rather post images which I made during the 2 days I was there.

I am not to keen on putting forward the images as Teliya cubs, Pandarpauni female etc (these are some of the names by which the tigers in TATR are known as) so; I am just attaching some of the interesting images I managed to click.

The image with the two tigers was shot in very poor early morning light at f2.8 ISO3200 hence both the faces are not in focus

Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue-_dsm5582.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by robimahanta : 16th March 2013 at 17:17.
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Old 16th March 2013, 17:35   #4
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Thread moved here from Assembly line. Thanks for sharing this brilliant photologue with us
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Old 16th March 2013, 17:57   #5
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Awesome and Speechless man. What catches!

However, I am intrigued as Leopards are supposed to be shy animals and they are so readily visible at this place.

When did you visit there, which days, Feb/March etc? Is the sighting sort of guaranteed most of the times? What zoom ranges did you shoot them with?

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Old 16th March 2013, 18:11   #6
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Excellent collection Robi!! With 7D and 500mm?
Quote:
Originally Posted by parsh View Post
However, I am intrigued as Leopards are supposed to be shy animals and they are so readily visible at this place.
Exactly what I wanted to ask also.

Curious to know what happened to that camera after they played with it.
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Old 16th March 2013, 19:40   #7
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Awesome. I am curious how the camera reached there and what happened afterwards
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Old 17th March 2013, 11:00   #8
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by parsh View Post
Awesome and Speechless man. What catches!

However, I am intrigued as Leopards are supposed to be shy animals and they are so readily visible at this place.
When did you visit there, which days, Feb/March etc? Is the sighting sort of guaranteed most of the times? What zoom ranges did you shoot them with?
The leopards are pretty used to people in Bera and since it is not a dense forest, sighting is almost guaranteed in all safaris. Besides the guides know the places where the leopards hang around the most.
I visited this March. The best time to go there is however winter, say Nov-Feb.

Used 70-200, 600, 17-40 mm lenses mostly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Excellent collection Robi!! With 7D and 500mm?
Exactly what I wanted to ask also.

Curious to know what happened to that camera after they played with it.
Thanks. I was actually trying out a 5DIII with 600mm
Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay380 View Post
Awesome. I am curious how the camera reached there and what happened afterwards

The camera was put there by one of the guides in the afternoon and the next morning we waited for some action. The camera actually fell down a rock slope but luckily nothing happened apart from a few scratches and dents. It was a basic Nikon DSLR with a cheap lens.

Since it's my friends camera, I dont have the images but we got some crazy stuff like these
Attached Thumbnails
Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue-img_1494rs.jpg  

Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue-img_1495rs.jpg  


Last edited by robimahanta : 17th March 2013 at 11:03.
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Old 17th March 2013, 12:48   #9
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Robi,

Awesome photologue. On my visit to Jodhpur in Jan'13 (Gurgaon - Sambhar Lake - Ajmer - Jodhpur - Gurgaon), I had almost planned to go to Jawai Dam but dropped it at the last moment. Leopards have been elusive to me. A couple of shots in Ranthambhore and a fleeting glance in Sariska.

Will plan in April to Bera. If you could just indicate the total cost that you incurred at the Leopard's Lair (including the safaris)?

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Old 17th March 2013, 13:30   #10
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Robi,

Something very different from the regular cat sightings. Nice concept.

These leopards seem very used to human presence, they are very well captured in their natural habitat, perfect leopard territory rocks and scrub.
A pleasure to see leopards this healthy and in numbers.

Loved the surreal, "rim lit run" and the leopard sillhute. The Langur's in silhouette are magical.

The first pic. in post #3 of the tiger is very well balanced by a darker backdrop, the tiger is bouncing out due to this.

Equally well timed and spectacular is the tiger skip-leaping over the water, with its rear paws still planted on the little stones.

Ah! Good, it was not the 5DIII that you decide to place there.
Regards,

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Old 17th March 2013, 14:34   #11
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Robi,

Awesome photologue. On my visit to Jodhpur in Jan'13 (Gurgaon - Sambhar Lake - Ajmer - Jodhpur - Gurgaon), I had almost planned to go to Jawai Dam but dropped it at the last moment. Leopards have been elusive to me. A couple of shots in Ranthambhore and a fleeting glance in Sariska.

Will plan in April to Bera. If you could just indicate the total cost that you incurred at the Leopard's Lair (including the safaris)?
Thanks GD. All the pricing details are there in their website. I am sure they will offer some discount on the published tariff as well.

Two more tiger images.

The Stalker

Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue-_dsm5860.jpg

Standing tall

Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue-_dsm6105.jpg
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Old 18th March 2013, 11:03   #12
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Speechless Robi. Too good.

I love Leopards and Cheetah. Especially the cubs are very cute. It is so difficult to spot them as they blend so beautifully in this terrain. Nice camouflage. In the 5th photo of Day 3 (Image 4950), the second leopard is almost invisible. Awesome!

I had also got the same information that leopards are very shy but your photologue proves that at least these are adapted to Page 3

Last edited by MotoNanu : 18th March 2013 at 11:06.
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Old 18th March 2013, 12:25   #13
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Oh Man what a beautiful travelogue. Both you and the nature at it's best ! Spectacular photography, the "leopard silhouette" and "rim lit run" pics need special mention. In all the pics the leopard is beautifully camouflaged, which actually scares me a bit, you never know what's around the corner !
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Old 18th March 2013, 12:27   #14
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

Awesome pictures of Leopards and Tigers. The tigers of Tadoba have been clicked superbly. Looks like National Geographic pictures. How did you manage the leopard picture in a silhoutte!!!

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 18th March 2013, 12:39   #15
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Default re: Leopards from Bera & Tigers from Tadoba : A Photologue

nice pics man! Your love for leopards does show in your images, simply mind blowing. Some how the color is better and the coat more glossy and the images jump out to you.

Had a realisation - looking at both leopards and Tigers in the same thread - Tigers look a little pale in comparison here

Just one thing - in most of your pics the rocks are pretty grainy? why - did you shoot with very high ISO?

Again - cool stuff. More closeup and full frame leopard pics pls!

Voting 5* already! In anticipation of more pics.
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