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On the tea garden, making tea and spotting leopards


The sweet sound of cuckoos is becoming clearer by the day, ordering all to “make more pekoe”.

During the onset of second flush, during the everyday pressures of the estate, we were pleasantly diverted when two healthy leopard cubs were found by the workers, on the Naholia Division.

Were they abandoned by a careless mother or was she in the process of shifting them, I wondered. Could the mother be the same leopard that I had seen, not very far from the bungalow? It was only last year that I had observed this beauty at very close quarters. In the fading evening light, she was a distant smudge but as I drove closer, I automatically froze. She was a full-grown leopard, alert, poised and unfazed by my presence. I didn’t dare take a photograph, she was too close for comfort. But maybe to reassure me that I wasn’t dreaming, she had left deep pug marks that I saw when I went back the next day.

At Zaloni

So, when news of the cubs reached me, I said, Okay, two more mouths to feed, so what if they belong to the wild cat family…Burra Sahibs are known for their large hearts. Defying all logic, I decided to take care of the helpless, hungry waifs. My husband, Rajiv, more rational than I, was trying to find a solution to the problem. In no time, forest officials and the police arrived, along with curious onlookers. The cubs didn’t seem to mind the attention or the crowd.

leopards zaloni

In an attempt to reunite the family and as advised by the authority, the cubs were smeared with cow dung slurry to disguise the human smell and were placed back exactly where they were found. We fervently hoped that the mother would come back for them. It turned out to be a long, rainy and dark night.

The next morning, we were immensely relieved the next morning to find that there were no sign of the cubs, presumably safely taken away by the mother, who left fresh pug marks as if to assure us of that. I believe that it was her way of thanking all. The perfunctory call to the authorities were made stating the development and thus normalcy returned……plucking resumed… pressure on…….and the relentless cuckoo orders….“make more pekoe”.

PS: The cubs were spotted again in the estate.  They look healthy and have grown considerably since their little adventure. 

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  • Jyotsna Parmar
    Jyotsna Parma is married to an Assam tea planter and has been residing in various tea estates for the last thirty one years. Presently, she and her husband live at the Zaloni tea estate. Jyotsna is fond of gardening, reading, writing and travelling.
  • All Posts from Jyotsna Parmar


  1. Tridib Barooah says

    A very nice read, punctuated with humour. Look forward to reading more.

  2. You definitely have a verve and style of your own Jyotsana which makes one want to read more however simple the subject may be!!Reminds me of my early married days when I’d want to write on so many things which seemed new and different -subsequently my diary bore the brunt to share a new experience with and of làte a catharassis of sorts!!
    Happy writing-don’t stop!Full speed ahead!!

  3. Rita Singh says

    Beautifully expressed Jyotsana…. you are lucky to be so close to nature

  4. Neelu Anand says

    Lovely piece. ..well written. .loving mother proves the universal nature of mother ….

  5. Jaishree misra says

    Wow!!! Really wonderful!!
    Must have been an amazing experience!!!
    Most importantly u guys did a real human effort of reaching d cubs bk to the mother!!!im impressed at the writing skill of Jyotsna. Saw a new side of u .a born author!!!!??????

  6. Sanjay bisht says

    This is a very fascinating and rare experience.I wish, i were there to share this experience with you.How the cubs are surviving in the jungle is a mystry.Your kind and compassionate gesture for the welfare of the cubs is praiseworthy.
    Keep writing such enthralling articles which will keep us updated about the exotic North east.

  7. Rohim says

    Happy ending for the two cubs. Love to hear that the leopard still at large freely roaming the area. They should be protected.
    Salute to those concern and tge authority.

  8. Swapnila kothiwal. says

    Wow jyotsna what an awesome experience. Waiting for you to share more. And I love happy endings. ?

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