Nestled in the beautiful forest bowl, Kyari is a village with a character, located in Jim Corbett National Park buffer zone. It’s about 8 kms from the main road and the livelihood of villagers is predictably simple. While advent of modernism is trying to touch them thru the tourists coming in, the brush with nature keeps them simple and grounded in forest where they belong. Today there are a few pucca houses though most others are kuccha, an odd motorcycle revs up amidst cycling villagers. One can have as much inaction or the lack of it in a village of just about 100 people, an oasis of calm located only about 10 kms (25 minutes drive) from the rows of clamorous roadside hotels of Corbett. It’s a world of its own with no traffic, no loud music, no blaring horns and humans peacefully coexisting with animals. The forest is full of animals though big ones are always elusive and normally one has to contend with seeing hordes of deers, sambhars, wild boars and of course the ever dancing peacocks. Tigers and Leopards are loners who prefer not to be seen and normally successful in playing hide and seek with humans. These animals are so silent that village is rife with stories of several predatory expeditions of big cats where nobody saw the hunter but the pet goat or the cow was hunted. Villagers actually associate the visits of big cats with tell tale signs of the hunting expedition rather than actually seeing them. Those moments are few when a village man actually sees a leopard or a tiger.
While there are several perceptions of the big animals about their hunger, their brutality and certain death in their claws, forest dwellers like the ones in Kyari have several different stories. A recent one shows some character of the leopard who strayed in Kyari very recently (December 2013). The leopard came to Kyari and not finding much, made himself contend with an odd pet dog ( a bitch, actually). The master of dog never saw the leopard but was convinced since he saw the pug marks, was told of the swish that someone saw when leopard jumped thru the over-grown fields and the constant terrified howl of other dogs and birds that usually tail the leopard. The master moaned that his bitch was pregnant and about to deliver pups and how he loved her and how his younger son was attached to the bitch like the dearest friend…but nature has its own rule book. However a few hours later, the bitch straddled back home almost hale and hearty though a little shaken with some injury marks on her neck. Everyone was amazed and gathered around the dog, gave her water and milk as a mark of joy. Then it was observed that the injury on the neck were the marks of leopard teeth… When leopard realized that his hunt is pregnant, he refused to kill her and dropped her just about a km or two from the village. The bitch had fainted and kept lying there for some time and was seen there by a forest guard. Once the bitch came back to senses, she splashed some water on herself from the nearby puddle and walked back home.
The compassion of leopard is heartening and the ways strange… what gives him such moral values… we would never know but may be the origin of his morals is same as ours, someone has hard wired these into our psyche, and who could that be but the one who is Master of all of us.