Anyone who has studied leopards will tell you that if a larger predator – say a tiger – is present, the leopards become ghosts, rarely heard or seen. Here in Jawai, with no tigers around, the spotted cat is ‘king of the hill’!
WISDOM OF THE RABARI
Jawai is a unique place, one where leopard-human conflict isn’t a problem. This is an achievement, as leopards often snatch dogs, goats and more from the villages around. As I found out, this can be credited to the attitude of the local ‘Rabari’ herdsmen. They have arrived at an understanding based on an ancient wisdom, which teaches mutual respect rather than fear. This understanding is what has allowed leopards to survive here. In fact they have thrived to such an extent that their high population density has resulted in behaviour, which has never been seen anywhere else: The leopards in Jawai live in prides, that’s right, prides!
Leopards tend to be solitary and stay away from other adult leopards, unless they are mating. Then again, Jawai is in no way an ordinary place. Here there are 26 leopards spread over 26 hills! The dominant male in the area when I visited – the Sena Male – was a massive, majestic creature. He has fathered multiple litters