A few weeks ago I was staying on the banks of the Kabini river, next to a nature reserve. It was still April then so it was hot but the best time of year to see animals in their habitat.
We took a boat and jeep safari. From the boat we could see herds of elephants on the shore of the river, literally dozens. Big elephants, small elephants, baby elephants.
Kabini is supposed to have a high concentration of cats: tigers and leopards. But the big cat would remain elusive during our stay.
We took the jeep safari early in the morning. It had rained the night before so the morning was foggy. The first animals we spotted was a family of elephants. We could only just make out their foggy outlines in the forest.
The closest we got to a leopard was its footprints. It had probably taken the same path only a few hours before, its tracks were still visible in the wet mud. But we were not lucky enough to catch a sighting, even a fleeting one.
When we would come across another jeep, the drivers would stop and the guides would exchange a few words: ‘What did you see? Any tigers?’ Others were more lucky that morning: they had seen four leopards. Two pairs!
We continued on our cat search but it was futile. However, we were in for a surprise. At some point on the road ahead there was a huge peacock. It was a male because only males have beautiful long tails. As we watched, it opened its feathers, and ‘danced’, prancing gracefully round and round, showing off its splendour, literally ‘strutting its stuff’. And then a second one, not to be outdone by the first, also put on a show for us. I was amazed by this animal’s beauty, its elegance, its brilliant colour.
I was watching the spectacle through binoculars so I couldn’t get a picture. But I didn’t manage to get a few other pictures of a peacock perched on a stump.
The peacock is India’s national bird. In Hindu mythology, the peacock or mayura, is Lord Murugan’s vahana or vehicle.