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Raw Nature

Leopard carrying foetus of a neelgai from a dead mother.

It was on this early morning of a humid day in August. It was a day right after the night rains at the Jhalana forest, Jaipur. This magical jungle is a jewel of Aravalli range and home to the most successful big cat of India - The Indian Leopard. There was a female Blue bull (Neel Gai) kill that was brought down by one of these leopards on the previous night and this gave us an optimum chance of spotting the phenomenon of leopard feasting on it. We started by parking the car nearby and waited in total silence, optimising the visit.

Soon, our patience was rewarded and we saw a male leopard walking head-on towards the kill. After devouring the blue bull, he vanished into the bushes, mostly for the post-meal siesta. We were really happy and content with the whole experience. We didn't know that there was more kept in our faith.

After another 10 minutes, peacocks got us into attention mode by giving continuous alarm calls. There was another leopard, a female this time, crossing the lush green belt and arriving at the spot of the kill. On her way, she stopped for a brief of a minute or two quenching its thirst from a water puddle. After that she went to the kill and grabbed a large membranous chunk of entrails in a hurry and dragged it across the road, into the tall bushes for a leisurely feast in solace. Fortunately, I was able to capture the same in my camera and after viewing it carefully I noticed that there was something very unusual about it, both eeire and fascinating at the same time.

What we possibly thought could have been the lower entrails of the nilgai female, turned out to be something wildly unexpected.

After carefully examining the picture, getting several feedbacks from vets and doctors, we realized the leopard had extracted the fetus of the hunted neel gai. The neel gai would have been pregnant at the time it was killed, nearing the end of its gestation, and the leopard was actually carrying the prenatal amniotic sac (the sac that holds the fetus before delivery).

It was an unbelievable moment, for one it was one of rarest moments to witness, to see nature in its wildest form, survival at its finest and the cycle of life playing itself in front of us so vividly. To be able to see it happen and more importantly, document it with this image was a feat of great luck and bliss.

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