Panna Leopard

'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

When I was a boy, sometimes our home could be without power. Snow, rain, wind, ice, and just steady high heat could knock out electricity for days or even weeks. One winter a large storm hit us sending ice and snow. Power lines snapped. I would lie in bed at night snuggled under thick quilts pretending to use a flashlight to read. Rather than giving attention to school studies, I quickly abandoned my homework and read from wildlife adventures in Africa and India . I clearly recall reading over and over the story of Jim Corbett, ‘Carpet Sahib,' and the Panna leopard. Nestled under those cozy quilts it was fun to imagine steaming jungle and raw wildlife adventure. The Panna leopard is credited with a record number of human fatalities in both Nepal and India , that leopard not only being a danger to humanity but a magnificent traveler. A tale of patient waiting at night, death itself to come stalking, is more than enough to warm any young boy.

I finally had a chance to visit Panna National Park , not sure if this was the same area the famous leopard hunted. I chose the southern route through Madhya Pradesh, ending up staying in a tent on the banks above the Ken River . I was informed I would not be allowed into the park. Oh, well. Sitting high in a unique tree house restaurant sipping beer, I met a Swiss couple. They informed me they waited a week to get into the park, but did not see a single animal. Their next plan was to see the diamond mine. I then learned that the largest diamond mine in India was right there next to the park. I spent two more days there, dividing my time between swimming in the river and sipping beer up in the tree house restaurant. When night crept up around my tent I would think back to my youth and leopards stalking in the night. I am happy to say that time did not dilute those memories and feelings; India is still the land full of promise and adventure. Not all the diamonds of India are embedded in dark grey Kimberlite rock. The magic of India 's wildlife is it's own rare gemstone. How many carat's in a leopard? How sad if there were no nature stories for small children to read snuggled warm late at night?

I wonder if it would be worth my time to return to Panna. There are so many places to visit. From all this I learned that something in the mind, especially a young mind, creates an image influencing the rest of life. I have been very lucky! I sincerely hope each of us has a chance in the very near future to go and be with nature. It is so important to take the time and when you do, take your time. So here is to hopes, dreams, wildlife, steaming jungles, and small children under thick quilts. Cheers.

( Leopard relaxing in Singapore Zoo-Photo Susan Sharma )

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