As we reached the spot where the dogs had crossed we slowed down to peer into the dense undergrowth for signs of a struggle indicating a successful chase for the dhole.
We could hear the yapping of the dhole inside the lantana shrubs and eventually spied the two. They were looking up and hopping onto the trunk of a tree and barking at something above.
What we saw, took all of us by surprise. It was a young leopard, standing precariously on a Y-shaped division on the trunk of the tree.
The dogs were having fun, having chased a larger predator up a tree and trying to dislodge it from its slippery perch!
I have seen predators in their natural settings and they always had an air of superiority over them. Secure in the knowledge that they were on top of the food chain they had nothing to fear except perhaps their own kind. The leopard, after all, was the second largest predator after the tiger, in Bandipur.
This leopard, however, had absolutely no evidence of superiority about it. As a matter of fact it was looking positively embarrassed. Why wouldn't it? It was the bigger creature and there were only two puny dogs to handle. It probably couldn't figure out itself, how it got itself in this rummy situation.
We knew waiting would be futile and the leopard would not leave the safety of the tree till it was absolutely safe. Besides, the sky was darkening and a downpour was looking a certainty.
When the skies opened up it was a deluge. The three of us in the open back of the safari vehicle got drenched to the skin but for once a bumpy ride in pouring rain was a pleasure. Since there was no point in continuing the safari we returned to the resort an hour earlier but our day was made.
It was a safari like no other before it. Bandipur always rocks. My favourite corner in this world.
PS: This last photo is to show you how high the leopard had climbed up on the tree. Almost 25 feet up, maybe more.