The JAWAI family is delighted to announce the return of one of our most beloved leopards: The Temple Female
In our first season, the Temple Female became a hit amongst the JAWAI team and guests. Not only was she the first leopard to been seen on the very day the camp opened, but she used to enjoy sitting in close proximity to a 350 year old temple. If one were patient, and lucky enough, you had to chance to watch her walk right across the whitewashed cave temple.
After a few months of wonderful sightings of this leoaprd, on the 26 March 2014 she disappeared.
She was last seen walking through a field of Castor, as captured below.
She was the biggest female leopard I had ever seen and seemed naturally confident around our JAWAI vehicles. The field team became used to finding her every couple of days and for many guests, she was the first leopard they had ever seen and photographed in the wild.
Days turned to weeks..
Weeks turned to months..
Months turned into a year..
The whereabouts of The Temple Female had become a mystery, with each of us developing our own theories as to where and why she might have disappeared. Interestingly a new, younger female, whom we named Naina, had now occupied her favourite hill.
I was of the belief that there had been no space for her and she had either been driven away, or killed. Competition between leopards in this area is intense, although the landscape is vast, there is a limited number of caves for the dominating cats to inhabit.
377 days and exactly 300 leopard sightings later and she was back!
Where has she been this whole time?
Why had she returned?
At JAWAI we actively search all the hills in a roughly 100km2 area. We conduct safari drives twice a day and do numerous walks in areas otherwise unreachable by vehicle. 377 days without a trace and suddenly she was back. Incredible!
We are not only excited at the prospect of further sightings of this individual, but are also fascinated to try and piece together her story. Itbs a little bit like a close friend returning from a long overseas holiday.
We have lots to catch up on!
Written by Adam Bannister
Photography by Adam Bannister and Chagan Lal