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Old 1st August 2015, 09:35   #31
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Thanks a lot for sharing this Anil. Was a great start to my weekend and hope to visit your retreat sometime in the future. Meanwhile, keep the story going and more pics please!
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Old 1st August 2015, 10:01   #32
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

All I can do is sigh with great envy.
Great writeup and appreciate you in many things. Not disturbing the cat in it's sleep is top among them. Keep it up
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Old 1st August 2015, 10:47   #33
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Anil I loved your write up. Loved how you eliminated all the possible options and deduced that the predator was a leopard. I can't say anything else to praise the triplog which hasn't already been said here, just keep up the great work. Wish you many more of such trips and sightings
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Old 3rd August 2015, 11:47   #34
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Excellent writing & some gripping pictures. Truly a 5* tread.

In this age where people shell out quite some bucks to see the wild cats, you Sir just walk into your farmhouse & find one
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Old 4th August 2015, 11:06   #35
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

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Originally Posted by Jungle Retreat View Post

I look forward to Fridays... Friday 2:00pm is usually when I am in my car with my family en-route to my man cave in Wayanad.

Anil
Hey Anil, is this your way of creating a ripple and letting it build up into a tsunami or your are more into a suspense thriller types buddy ??

You just posted your first leg of the adventure and have almost gone into hiding since. Any more updates/adventures from your farm or should all of us wait for 'Another Friday' to happen !!
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Old 5th August 2015, 14:20   #36
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Wow!, what a write up. It was totally enthralling to read. Not everyone gets to host a leopard in his own farm house backyard in beautiful Wayanad.
I am a bit envious of you.
Please keep posting pictures and your interesting write-ups.
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Old 5th August 2015, 19:34   #37
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Dear friends,
It is good to hear from you all and many thanks for your kind words.
Regarding the farm, yes, very lucky indeed to have the opportunity to escape to the wild when the city life gets to me, it is around 5 hours drive from Bangalore and I reach a world devoid of ppts and meetings! It is just pure, unadulterated nature all around, the only people I bump into are the like-minded guests who come and stay with us or the tribal folks born and brought up in the jungle.

I was in Wayanad this weekend as well, and had elephants and Gaur sightings right inside the farm. A pack of wild dogs did make a very brief appearance, but they didn't linger long. I also made an unsuccessful attempt to go to the "leopard tree" and was planning to wait there for a while, but en-route I was spotted by the Nilgiri Langur (pretty elusive, but they are there in Wayanad) and the Malabar Giant Squirrel. They started sounding the alarm after seeing me and knowing that the entire jungle would have been alerted to my presence, I decided to return back. I did see fresh pug marks though, clear indication that the cat(s) (mom and a young cub!) was still around.

No cat pics this time unfortunately, but I did record the alarm calls, the source of the threat this time being me! (But I now I realize that I won't be able to share videos here.)

I will try and post regular updates.

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st September 2015 at 17:38. Reason: As per PM
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Old 6th August 2015, 12:25   #38
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

After the trek, I reached home and sat on the balcony soaking in the view from there. It was bright and sunny, and I could see the herd of Chital grazing peacefully with no care in the world. Just when I thought that finally, there was peace in this madding world, 2 young stags decided to get into a sparring match. It started with gentle pushing and probing, but soon it turned into full-fledged sparring bout with both of them having a real go at each other. That is when the big male took offence to what was happening and decided enough was enough. He came down and dismissed the sparing males with one dirty look, after all, the sparring was nothing but a practice leading to the real fight to displace the big male to win the right to mate! The big male, understandably didn't want anything of that sort to happen and by the looks of it, it’ll be at least another 2 years before these wannabes would be able to challenge this big boy.
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The raised tail shows annoyance/excitement

My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!-8.jpg
See how much darker the coat is, a dark coat indicates that the deer is in its prime


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I was at least 200 meters away and since I was too lazy to go and get the tripod, I took a few random shots with fully extended zoom. The pics are nothing to rave about, but it shows the behavior close to the rutting season which is set to start late this month. Soon, the jungle would resonate with the throaty rutting calls of the big bulls warning the wannabes to keep out. Little do they know that these calls are also heard by the other jungle folks, and for some, it would sound like a very inviting dinner bell!
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Old 9th August 2015, 19:01   #39
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Another Friday goes by and we get our instalment Great!
You are making this as weekly treat and giving a reason to look out for Sunday evenings/ Monday mornings to see whats new in your man cave!

If possible, upload the videos to youtube and post a link here.

And thanks for the invite to visit your man cave.
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Old 10th August 2015, 00:03   #40
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Beautiful thread. We do get a lot of delicious pics; what we usually miss out is the explanations. You go the other way round which actually puts a lot of context to the pics. Makes up for a lovely reading. In case you haven't thought, your experiences have the potential to come in the form of a great book. The knowledge we get is truly fascinating. Thank you & you are blessed to have a weekend life that a lot of us envy. Looking forward to more...
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Old 31st August 2015, 20:34   #41
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Great thread, amazing write-up supported with very nice pictures.
As everyone else has said, you are living the good life having the opportunity to be so close with nature, something that most of us yearn for but are not always able to achieve.

Please keep sharing on this thread. Also if you do not mind, could you post some pictures of your man cave (loved the term) as well, at least those which do not give away the location but still give us a sense of the place.

Cheers,
S
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Old 3rd April 2016, 14:24   #42
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

News travels fast in this neck of the woods and if you know what to listen for, how to decipher the call of the animals, it can open up a fascinating new world, especially if you are a wildlife lover. I enjoy taking my camera and going for aimless strolls through our farm, aimless it might be, but always mindful of the fact that I am the guest here.

It was almost 7 am and I was getting ready to go for one such walk that morning and that is when I heard the alarm calls of the Langur coming from the Northern side of the farm bordering Tholpetty. As described in my previous post, alarm calls are often heard from in and around our farm, what was interesting this time was the intensity and frequency of the calls, something was indeed afoot, that too close by. The calls were made by the Gray Langur, (black-feet) and they, unlike their cousins (Macaques) were a lot more aristocratic and regal in their ways. They usually shy away from man and go about minding their own business, and their alarm calls resemble a throaty cough, ending in a guttural howl.


For anyone who is used to tracking animals be it on foot or during safari drives, such alarm calls are like gold-dust, it shows the presence of a carnivore. Since it was the Langur calling, it could have been any of the cats – the spotted or the striped, it could have been a pack of Dholes (wild dogs), a large predatory bird, or even a large snake would get them into the frenzied state. I decided to investigate. Taking my camera (which by no means guarantees a good photo – as you will soon see) and changing into my trekking clothes and putting on my rubber soled shoe, I walked towards the direction from where the calls were coming from.


The calls were still loud and persistent; I had my hopes up as the calls were coming from multiple individuals and not just the Langur sentry. Their throaty calls reverberated around, it was clear that the jungle was alert. In the last 5 minutes or so that I have been walking, the callers had not moved, clearly indicating that what-ever the source of the threat was, was still there and in no hurry.


Soon, I was close to the Langurs sitting on the teak tree, I looked around, large teak trees everywhere with lantana bushes between the trees. The visibility was poor to say the least and if the Langur saw me coming, it’d start looking at me, and then whichever the animal – the source of threat was, would know something else was close by and it’d move away. So, as is always the case, it was important not to get seen by the caller.




When you are tracking an animal, it is always important to predict what the animal would do next. And in this case, the first step for me was to identify what the source of concern was. I did a quick mental math, I ruled out Wild dogs from the list of possible candidates, they are usually in a pack and they avoid staying out in the open for too long unless they have made a kill. I didn’t hear the commotion associated with a wild dog kill, they are messy eaters and they usually chase their prey over a long distance, and the whole process is usually very noisy and the jungle would be wide awake to the act. Here, apart from the Langur’s relentless calls, it was eerily quiet. I ruled out the treat being a large predatory bird, there were egrets and herons in our open meadows going about their business. If there were large predatory birds around, the egrets and herons won’t forage out in the open in such a casual manner. We have had terrific Leopard and Tiger sightings inside the farm of late and I was hoping that it’d be one of the big 2 and if it was indeed the case, they wouldn't linger around for much longer in the teak forest, because the sun was making its presence felt and it was getting very warm.


As this was inside our farm, I was very familiar with the area and I have frequented this part many, many times. There was a small ravine with large trees on both the sides about 400 feet towards my left and there was every chance that the animal would soon get up and walk towards the shade, where there was ample cover and water. That is what I expected the animal to do, but as you know, with wildlife, it is almost impossible to predict what would happen next. But since this was the most practical option I could think of, I decided to tip-toe to the left and skirt around the teak trees towards the ravine.


The Langurs hadn’t seen me yet, the calls kept coming, which was reassuring that the source of the “danger” was still there. As I crouched and moved to the left, the progress was slow because the ground was carpeted with dry teak leaves which would crackle and give away my presence at the faintest of touch. I carefully tiptoed, making sure that I left the leaves and twigs well alone. The teak trees soon gave way to large evergreen trees, and I could feel the distinct drop in temperature once I entered the evergreen shades. I wanted to find a vantage point overlooking the small rivulet in the ravine, so that if anything did come out, I’d be in a good position to see it without it seeing me first. The name of the game is to spot the animal before it sees you and the only way to do that is to find an area that is camouflaged, be completely silent and motionless and hope that you get lucky – it is easier said than done.


Soon I reached the wooded ravine, I could hear the birds calling, the langur at a distance continued to call, telling me that the “threat” was still visible to them and had not moved. I felt confident that I would be able to find a spot that’d give me ample cover, as I scoured the area for rocks or large trees to hide behind. I didn’t want to be more than 50 feet away from the rivulet as I was expecting the animal to come down the ravine offering me a good photo opportunity. I climbed to the other side of the ravine which had a healthy growth of lantana and the Christmas bush – both giving me ample cover to sit under, with the rivulet 25 feet below, in front of me.


I sat down on a small rock between the bushes, and there was a large log right in front of me, which gave me additional cover and it also doubled up as my camera stand. I prepared to wait it out, it was almost 8 am by then, the Langur’s were still calling and I was confident that the animal would come down from the other bank, walk towards the rivulet and I should be able to see it as it came down for a drink before it saw me.

Everything was set, I was sitting hidden in the bushes, which gave me ample cover and I was hoping when the animal started moving towards the rivulet, the Langurs would do the same, indicating the path taken by the animal. Langurs do tend to follow the threat and it is rightly considered as one the best alarm givers in the jungle because of its persistence that too from its vantage point. The simple logic the Langurs and Chital have is – the enemy I can see is better than the enemy I can’t, and so it is not uncommon to see the jungle folks following the carnivores at a safe distance.


The next 1 hour would be crucial. If the animal did come down for a drink, it’d happen in the next 30 minutes or so as it was getting warmer by the minute. I had my camera with the tele-zoom lens ready resting on the log facing the ravine below me. It was important that I was ready for the shot without having to move my camera. Any sort of movement, no matter how well camouflaged I was would give away my presence and that is the last thing I wanted. I took my camera phone out and had it as a backup. I was happy with the setting, everything was in place and I sat motionless, my senses completely alert, waiting for the carnivore to walk down from the other side of the ravine any time now.


I must have waited motionless for a good 20 minutes... and then... I heard it for the first time! I thought I heard something brush against the leaves, but the sound came from my left hand side and not from the other side of the ravine. It was a very gentle sound, a sound that is made when you brush against a bush ever so gently and it didn’t feel as though it was made by a large animal. The initial instinct was to turn to the left and look in that direction, but any such sudden movement would have given away my presence. I sat motionless and alert peering to the left through the corner of my eye without turning my head. I could still hear the Langurs calling from afar, coming from 200 feet in front of me. What could have moved from my left – and it felt as though it came from very close. Then I heard the sound again, this time it sounded like a gentle scuffle through the bush, not more than 15 feet or so from my left. I remember slowly turning my head towards the left, the phone in one hand, the camera and the heavy lens still facing down, resting on the log. It took me a good 20 seconds to turn my head ever so slowly and look towards the left .... and then I saw him looking back at me, 15 feet away with those big, beautiful, inquisitive eyes of his.


I didn’t break the gaze, neither did he, we both looked at each other for a good few seconds. I didn’t want to make any sudden movement as it would have scared him away, but I had to capture this priceless moment. Reaching out and taking the camera from the log and bringing it to my eye level would have spooked him and he’d be off in a flash. The only option I had was to try and take a photo with the phone and hope it’d come out half decent. I was already holding the phone, I slowly lifted my phone which was in the camera mode, turned my hand left and brought the phone camera to face him. Since I moved the phone in such a painstakingly slow manner, it didn’t seem to bother him, as he kept looking at me with a puzzled expression. The setting on the phone was such that it’d focus on the point where I tapped on the screen. I didn’t want to look at the phone and break the eye contact with him. With the phone facing him I tapped on the centre of the screen, hoping to capture those precious moments.

My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!-leo1.jpg

My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!-leo2.jpg

The Leopard cub was not more than 6 months old, it had a very inquisitive look and was as surprised as me. After the first few seconds, it lifted its small head so that it could get a better look at me and then it realized that it was his mortal enemy hiding behind the bushes. Without giving me a second look it slinked away into the bushes and disappeared as only a Leopard could. The calls were still coming from afar, it was clear that it was a family with young cub(s) as the Leopard mom would not be too far away from cubs this young and the Langur, in all probability was looking at the mom while I was looking at the cub. The Golden rule in the wild is to avoid the cat when it is with its cubs or when it is with a kill. It doesn't end well usually for both the cat and the man. The Leopardess would be fiercely protective and she’d take the cub and move out of the area. That is the last thing I wanted to happen, I broke my cover, got up from my hiding place, and without giving a second glance towards where the cub was, I walked towards the right, making a beeline towards my Cottage.

In less than 10 minutes I was back in my balcony trembling with excitement, as the Langurs continued to call alerting the forest.

It is not everyday that you get a chance to see the most elusive cat, that too on foot. I was prepared, my camera ready, but the wild has its own ways to surprise you. I didn’t expect the cub to make an appearance, nor did I expect to take a photo with my phone, especially since I had my camera set and ready. I went through the photos, and in that exhilarating moment, I ended up taking shaky and out of focus photos, but I couldn’t care less, I had just seen a Leopard cub inside the farm – what an absolute privilege.

I leaned back in my armchair in the balcony facing the meadows, the Langur’s were still calling, and it was then my wife came to the balcony and enlightened me pointing in the direction of the call – “something is out there, the calls have been coming for an hour now...”
I nodded in agreement.. something was indeed out there, I gave her my phone with the photos. I closed my eyes and leaned back with a very content smile, waiting for the initial shriek of disbelief followed by the barrage of questions... why, what, how, where... followed by the usual one with a frown – “why didn’t you take me with you...”
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Old 3rd April 2016, 17:41   #43
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The Leopard cub was not more than 6 months old, it had a very inquisitive look and was as surprised as me
I envy your man cave, your knowledge/experience with wildlife and the way you read situations. Most of all I envy the ease with which you transport a reader to the environs and make us mere mortals experience the excitement of tracking wildlife Enjoy your slice of heaven my friend and do share your experiences more often.

Last edited by procrj : 3rd April 2016 at 17:58.
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Old 4th April 2016, 20:30   #44
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Default Re: My Man Cave + A Close Encounter in Wayanad!

Fabulous thread, Jungle Retreat! It's been a long while since my school vacations - when I'd be transported to Magonia through Jim Corbett's books! You take me back down that misty road. And your photologue does one better than Mr.Corbett's books, since unfortunately, in those days photography was not what it is today.
Looking forward to your further instalments!
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Old 5th April 2016, 11:47   #45
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Originally Posted by Jungle Retreat View Post

For anyone who is used to tracking animals be it on foot or during safari drives, such alarm calls are like gold-dust, it shows the presence of a carnivore. Since it was the Langur calling, it could have been any of the cats – the spotted or the striped, it could have been a pack of Dholes (wild dogs), a large predatory bird, or even a large snake would get them into the frenzied state. I decided to investigate. Taking my camera (which by no means guarantees a good photo – as you will soon see) and changing into my trekking clothes and putting on my rubber soled shoe, I walked towards the direction from where the calls were coming from.

I closed my eyes and leaned back with a very content smile, waiting for the initial shriek of disbelief followed by the barrage of questions... why, what, how, where... followed by the usual one with a frown – “why didn’t you take me with you...”
Does animals come on your property too? I think you should get a camera trap setup somewhere on your farm to get close up shots of the animals. I guess that would help you a lot!

Looking forward to hearing more.

Maddy
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