The Honour for the Image of the Month for June 2013 goes to Praveen Siddannavar's leopard image titled "Monsoon Leopard Kabini".
I am partial to leopards.
I loved the rich colours of leopard in the green background.
Praveen's original description reproduced below:
Finally the rain Gods have mercy on our pristine forests, 15th June 2013 evening it started pouring at Kabini at 7pm in the evening and believe me it rained all night until early morning today 16th June. I visited Kabini with my team-mates/ex-colleagues who had never visited Kabini nor seen a cat in the wild. I didn’t guarantee them a tiger but had assured them that there is good chance of seeing a leopard, that’s the reputation kabini has.
As usual I woke up quite early on the morning of 16th June and I was aware that it rained all night. A lot of guests decided not to take the morning drive due to heavy rains, at one point I too was feeling the same. However I was here with friends who were keen to see a cat, we were all set by 6am and for some reason we left a bit late for the morning drive.
We had Cottu as our driver and senior most naturalist of JLR Kabini- Umesh, who has always been lucky for me. We drove into Zone B through Udboor gate, after a while we realized we didn’t even spot a Chital in the first 25 mins or so. We drove through the old MM road and Umesh directed the Chottu to drive into Eucalyptus (Nilgiri) Plantation, I had my memories refreshed about this location of an amazing Tiger sighting that was spotted by Umesh. At the end of the plantation road on the backwaters of kabini river, we spotted a huge herd of wild boars, instantly Umesh responded that wild boars have always been lucky for him, I said in my mind and hoped his luck too transforms to all of us.
After a while we moved on towards sunset point, I was extremely happy to see that the backwaters of river Kabini have replenished to a certain level. Here we spotted an extra-ordinary large herd of chitals, I made few images of the chital scape. At this point ours was the only jeep at sunset point, we heard few birds chirping and of course lot of rattling (mating) calls by the stag (male chital). And suddenly a place that was so quiet went on with loud and strong warning calls of langur (Black Faced Monkey) from the plantation side. Chottu our driver was quick to turn the jeep and drove few yards towards the plantation route and put the engine off.
The alarm calls went on and on by a single langur, after about 4-5 mins Umesh whispered sir “Leopard…Leopard”. What we saw was a young, beautiful female leopard popped out of the woods. She walked and crossed the safari track right in front of us and by then another safari van quickly drove upon seeing the cat, with sudden noise made by the van, this lovely lady disappeared into the bushes. However I was fortunate to make some decent images, the leopard moved toward segur road. We drove a little further and the alarm calls and this time not just by langurs but even the Malabar giant squirrel too gave the calls of the threat by a predator.
This leopard was on the move probably she was moving through the bushes, a smart move by our driver chottu was to drive towards segur junction where 4 tracks meet, I instantly agreed with him and we waited at the junction, by now few more jeeps gathered. Everyone were keen to spot the spotted, but she didn’t make her appearance, the alarm calls went on non-stop so we were 100% sure she was around. After a while we sensed some movement in the bushes diagonally opposite to us on the left. I could barely see her tail in the bushes.
And finally as expected this lovely lady emerged out of the greens, I was extremely thrilled as she was in direct contact-eye to eye with me. That is when I clicked this image, a dream shot for any wildlife photographer. Stay tuned more to come…
Camera - Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon f4 500mm lens
EXIF - ISO 800 Av 4 Tv 1/640 sec EC -0.3, small crop
Date - 16th June 2013 @ 7:45am