Co-existence across an impossibly romantic landscape

Jawai Leopard Reserve

Jawai’s healthy population of leopards co-existing with the charismatic Rabari tribe became the focus of the world’s media a few years ago, and Jawai soon arrived on the wildlife tourism map of India. The Jawai Leopard Conservation Reserve was established in the year 2013.

Co-existence across an impossibly romantic landscape

Traditionally the area was maintained for grazing livestock and farming by the Rabari Tribe who are shepherds/herdsmen. Here, amongst large granite formations, dry river beds scattered with religious shrines and temples, and the small villages of the tribesmen, thrive the celebrity leopards of Jawai.

Although these leopards rely on the diet of shepherd livestock and street dogs, remarkably there has not been any conflict between humans and leopards. Tribesmen take the occasional loss of goat or sheep rather philosophically, as an occupational hazard of sharing their land with leopards.

Leopards, in turn, stay respectfully wary but unalarmed by the presence of the tribesmen going about their daily activities. It is the most incredible sight to see villagers at prayer and leopards sitting quite calmly and watching the ceremonies.

The area is also home to Caracals, Chinkara, Desert Cat, Indian Wolf, Sloth Bear, Pythons, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Striped Hyena and Nilgai.

A close shave

Jawai could’ve easily slipped away from its current idyll when a few years ago mining leases were granted. Thankfully, tireless efforts of local naturalists and wildlife lovers helped convince the Rajasthan Government to stop the mining and designate the area as the Jawai Leopard Conservation Reserve, thereby ensuring the majestic spotted felines continue to roam free on these ancient granite boulders.

Experiences

The Jawai Dam was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur in 1957. It is the biggest dam in the western Rajasthan, and its large reservoir is home to many species of migratory and residential birds.

During winter months, this birding hotspot provides reliable sightings of over 100 bird species such as Sarus Crane, Indian Courser, Osprey, Pelicans, Bar- Headed Geese, Water fowl, pipits, larks, pratincoles, and other raptors.

More than 500 Crocodiles are found in the Jawai River and reservoir, and can easily be spotted basking in the sun along the banks.

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