The jeep screeched to a halt as she materialized as if from nowhere. It had been a fruitless, dusty day in the park exacerbated by the fact that our only leopard sighting had been in the midst of a traffic jam that would have put Colombo to shame. As dusk descended over the dry wilderness we headed out of the park, jolting along as thoughts of a warm shower and the delicious bread at Tissa View occupied our thoughts.
I think Sumudhu was the most surprised out of all of us as she materialized as we passed Diganwalla. Possibly close to a year old (but then I’m no expert in aging leopards) she sat there looking mildly affronted at our hasty stop. She stared at us for awhile before getting up, stretching lithely and heading down to the water to drink.
At the water’s edge she put on what could only be described as a performance for us. Delicately, as though she didn’t want her pristine paws soiled by the mud she paced up and down and snarled at imagined threats in the water repeatedly until settling down to rapidly lap at the water.
What had seemed like a lost day suddenly turned into a perfect one, as the stunningly beautiful young leopard locked eyes with us. May she have many years of life as the supreme predator of Yala ahead of her.