THE ASA DIARIES – LEOPARD REWILDING PROGRAM – ACCEPTANCE, REJECTION AND FLEXIBILITY ARE KEY INGREDIENTS IN HELPING A LEOPARD BE WILD AGAIN…
In the video clip you’ll see one of the key moments in Asa’s acceptance of Bidhya. The very next day Asa completely rejected the young wildlife
The rivers are up and over 600kg of gear is waiting on a jeep. Porters are ready for the final brutal carry up the mountain. A young leopard bides
his time but he is ready to become a true hunter, take the next lessons on his journey to become a mountain jungle survivor.
Asa’s handler types this blog with relative calm. I know nothing more can be done. We wait while the monsoon plays its cards. We’ll get there but climate does not wear a watch, it blows and flows the way it wants.
The young leopard accepted and got to know Bidhya over many days because I needed him to do that. Bidhya is filming and shooting still images during the transfer, she has a quiet, relaxed way which suits her small frame. You get the feeling Asa knows he could inflict serious damage on her if he needed to. Bidhya and Bindu, who will be at the ready with sedatives if the leopard becomes stressed, are vital cogs I have brought in for the
transfer. Both have seen Asa behave with anger and aggression, they know the score and that the placid leopard you see in the video is only a part of the equation. Only Shiva and I can handle Asa now and Shiva will not be making the journey. His place is in the Kaski to handle smaller, much younger cubs in the future. Asa knows Bidhya and Bindu will not harm him but he still calls the shots as to how close they can get, his independence grows daily. I have to keep a close eye on the body language of leopard and human at all times during interaction. Already Asa is pulling away from Shiva and I know one day, up in the Himalayan jungle, the leopard will decide he no longer needs me either.
The Stage 2 location is such that leopards will have minimal human contact. I’ll be making weekly video and written reports for conservation staff, the locals and tourists when I drop down to the village each week. As I wrote in a previous post you can get an idea of the plan at wildleopard.net
I’ll be able to blog again before the transfer is complete. After that there will be a gap while communication systems are sorted out. There’s going to be some sad goodbyes but everyone involved is excited about the new beginning. Nature, in the form of the Himalayan weather and a young leopard is making us wait and teaching us acceptance, rejection and flexibility. Support has been wonderful, inspirational. Family and friends have come to the fore, thank you from deep in my heart for the belief. There have been moments of real struggle but others of real humour which I’ll explain next time. I’ll also talk about Marty Coss, a great friend and colleague in Australia, a man who understands the right to life and whose connection to nature inspires me. His help and that of many others are just as important as the jungle session I close my laptop for now, to have with Asa, the leopard of hope, as his journey continues…