• Rajasthan Tours - leopard safaris near Ranakpur
  • Luxury Rajasthan Tours - leopard safaris

Introducing leopard safaris

India's dwindling tiger population has long been in the media eye, and for foreign visitors, no trip to India seems complete without a foray in to Ranthambore or Sariska National Parks. However, the leopard has been much overlooked, and despite many signs indicating leopard sanctuaries, few tourists ever get to see one. On our travels around Rajasthan we noticed more and more of these signs, and despite our attempts to track down one of these elusive creatures we had yet to have anything close to a sighting.

So when someone suggested that there was a leopard expert - local legend Thakur Devi Singh, we decided we would have to investigate. Having seen a tiger up-close-and-peronal at Ranthambore, we thought there must be a similar level of thrill in meeting a leopard. And there definitely is! We're therefore extremely happy to now be able to offer leopard safaris to our clients.

are naturally very shy and therefore the chances of just bumping in to one are minimal. However, with Devi Singh's expert tracking skills and extensive knowledge of their behaviour and daily routines increase the chances of a sighting to a staggering 95%. Of course when it comes to wildlife there are no guarantees - but still it's an impressive figure. The safari lasts around three hours, depending on how quickly you get lucky. If nothing else then you get to see some more of Rajasthan, as the leopards' lair is just over an hour's drive from Ranakpur. The landscape in the area is significantly different that the rest of Rajasthan and all year round maintains a much more green outlook than the plains and the desert. After monsoon it's just luscious greenery. The rocky terrain, with large outcrops and higher vantage points are the perfect setting for leopard to set up home, and in most cases this is exactly where you'll find them.

Mr Singh and his son both lead the safaris personally - it's their persistence and fastidious monitoring of the leopard that gives them their unique edge. Riding in an open-top jeep, you'll be careering through fields and over rock-beds as you train your binoculars or zoom lense to try be the first to spot the leopard. Of course, The Singh's will have spotted it first and are adept at pointing out to even the most short-sighted of us where the leopard is.

In winter (March to April) conditions are better for being able to get closer to the leopard, and perhaps even having a close-up encounter. Many of Mr Singh's guests leave with stunning photographs of his personal favourite, Zara and even her recent litter of cubs.

From a conservation perspective, Devi Singh acutely aware of the dangers facing leopards, including those presented by humans. Whilst the tiger is the focus of everyone's attention, leopard numbers in Rajasthan continue to decline. With limited natural prey, these cats turn to livestock as their means of surivival - instantly making themselves the sworn enemy of every farmer within a 20 mile radius of their lair. Poisonings are not unheard of and it's for this reason that Mr Singh springs in to action - partially reimbursing famers who's animals have been killed by what they now see as "his" leopard. It's a courageous stance, and one might be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that the authorities could do no better job. He shudders at the thought of the area being turned in to a national park and the negative implications that this would have. Currently presiding over around 14 leopards in various areas, about four of these are on his own land.

We loved every minute of our time with Devi Singh and instantly knew that he would be a hit with our clients. He's a true old-school gentleman with a collection of tales (leopard related or otherwise) as long as your arm and anecdotes that can only leave you wondering about all of the 'other' stories you didn't get to hear. His manner and joviality is infectious and he creates an ambiance that helps you imagine what it must have been like in the days of the Maharajahs and hunting for sport - but with a much happier ending.

Leopard safaris are included as an option in all Wire tours that pass through Ranakpur with an overnight stay there. If your preferred tour itinerary does not include Ranakpur but you would like to include a leopard safari then please let us know and we will see if there are additional possibilities.

Leopard safaris

Our leopard safaris are a chance to get up close and personal with big cats...Wire teams up with Thakur Devi Singh for a unique wildlife encounter.

Leopard safaris with Wire

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