Encountering the unexpected at Aarey!

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Encountering the unexpected at Aarey!

Ideally, this post should have been published half a year ago, but it’s been such a wild eventful year, that I am shamefully behind on recording.

Date: 26th July 2014

My birding buddy and I had made plans to visit Aarey once again. We reached inside at about 8:15 AM and we had hardly covered any ground, when a biker passing by stopped us and warned us about the leopard. He advised us to be careful as it seemed that the spotted one was about that morning. Needless to say, we were thrilled and went on anyway after promising the man that we would be careful. After about a quarter of an hour of joyous birding, another couple of men walked past warning us about the leopard again. Again we nodded and walked on.

A lull had fallen about and we walked on in silence with our ears pricked up for bird calls. It was about 9:15 AM and suddenly around 5-6 feet ahead of us, we saw a feline in crouching position on the ground crossing the lane.  It had a smallish head and seemed to have spots on its body and stripes on its tail! My buddy and I exchanged glances and mutually mouthed mutely “Not a leopard”. Apparently it was in hot pursuit of a prey and had not noticed us. And in ten seconds, it had crossed over to the other side of the jungle and disappeared in the thick undergrowth of bushes. 

Only then did we open our mouths and blabbed the first thing that came to our mouths.. Rusty Cat??? No..Jungle Cat… maybe the Palm Civet??? .. what was it??? We scanned the bushes where it had disappeared but there was no sign of it. We hastily pulled out our cell phones and googled wild cats and then we knew… the wonderful creature that had given us such a thrilling experience was the SMALL INDIAN CIVET CAT! There had been no time to click a picture but the image of the crouching Civet Cat will be engraved in our minds forever.Given the highly secretive and nocturnal nature of these cats, we were truly extremely lucky to see it and that too in the daytime. Who would have thought, that such surprises existed in the harsh concrete jungle that Mumbai is!

If the Aarey development plans go through, then these wonderful creatures will also lose their home. Presently all those who support this cause are working very hard to #saveaarey. If you would like to join the community and help in anyway, you can refer to the website http://www.saveaarey.org for further details.