No man vs wild here, coexistence is the word

No man vs wild here, coexistence is the word

The Bera Bond by Sundeep Bhutoria. Pan Macmillan. Pages 164. Rs750

Book Title: The Bera Bond

Author: by Sundeep Bhutoria

For those who have been wonderstruck by the recent viral video of cheetahs sleeping with a man in South Africa, a similar wonder awaits in Rajasthan. For decades, leopards and humans have coexisted peacefully at Bera near Udaipur. Telling their story is wildlife enthusiast Sundeep Bhutoria in ‘The Bera Bond’. A coffee table book with photographs by conservationist Shatrunjay Pratap Singh, it tells the story of the wonderful relationship, more through pictures, less via words.

Leopards reclining on the temple steps are a common sight in Bera.

The leopard colony lies between Kumbhalgarh and Mount Abu wildlife sanctuaries, home to vivid wildlife and the Rabaris, animal herders who have never entered into a conflict with the leopards even as they often prey on their cattle.

Intensely private creatures, not given to flamboyant displays of magnificence like tigers, leopards are believed to have come down here from the Kumbhalgarh sanctuary more than 40 years ago. Today, more than 55 leopards inhabit this region. What works for them here is that the rocks merge beautifully with the spots on leopards, making it difficult to locate them. But then the bond shows when you see them frolicking on the steps of hill temples. Priests and leopards live in their own space, unperturbed, undisturbed, much to the delight of tourists, conservationists and wildlife photographers. Leopards reclining on the temple steps, ascetics going about their chores, visitors taken by surprise — the thread runs across the various small temples on the small hills.

The book is a result of the author’s three-day stay in the area and he admits that the information is also from secondary sources. Even as he does not vouch for its authenticity, the photographs in the book and the heartwarming bond of the Rabaris and the ascetics with the leopards is enough for one to appreciate the effort, and pick up the book. — TNS