On the occasion of National Wildlife Week, The Generation Green (TGG) held a nationwide "Storytelling Competition." We received dozens of submissions — and this piece by Binaya Adhikari stood out. Find out why!
Having been raised alongside the lush green forests adjacent to the majestic Rupa Lake, I have had the opportunity to witness several encounters with various wildlife throughout my village life. Listed as a Ramsar site under the Lake Cluster of Pokhara Valley, Rupa Lake is known to harbor a vast array of biodiversity; several species of wild animals are visible quite readily in the area conjoining the lake and forest.
One fine day during the spring season of the year 2065 BS, I experienced my most memorable wildlife encounter. Just shy of finishing my 8th grade final exams, I had returned to my village to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. I always look forward to my return to the village, especially because my uncle and I would often go fishing and swimming in the lake. As a child, being far away from my hectic school schedule with no pressure of homework and examinations felt like a dream come true. I could spend the whole day with my uncle, traveling around the forest and the lake.
But my excitement was cut short when he told me that he had to travel to Pokhara for a few days due to important work. I felt so low at the thought of abandoning all my plans for the vacation. After my uncle was gone, I went to the edge of the lake, sat down and dipped both of my foot in the water and gazed out at the horizon.The sparkling waves glimmering over the lake seemed mesmerizing and soothing, with the subtle wind landing swiftly upon the serene water. Though the sight of various wetland birds was common in the area, other wildlife were occasionally seen.
I was quite lucky that day as my gaze stumbled upon a ratuwa (barking deer) cautiously quenching its thirst by the lake. Against a backdrop of the lush forest alongside the azure sky, the moment felt so enchanting. I held still, wary to not make any sudden movements or any sound as it could easily scare the deer. Then all of sudden, I was startled by the sound of huge splash on the water. It took me a moment to realize that something had ambushed the deer on the edge of the lake. The deer was struggling to escape and was making desperate noises.
And then I saw the culprit. It was a leopard, grabbing onto the deer’s neck with a ferocious grip. The deer was still struggling as the leopard dragged it from the edge of the lake and into the forest. The whole moment ended the same way it began - in a split moment - before I could even process and realize what had actually happened. It turned out that the leopard was nearby the whole time — even while I was admiring the deer — as it was camouflaging itself perfectly and was so stealthy when it attacked. I was a bit traumatized by the gruesome scene I had just witnessed and quickly ran towards my house afterwards. I told my grandfather about the incident and he was quick to be thankful to the grace of god that I was spared by the leopard and made me promise that I wouldn’t go to the lake by myself again.
It has been many years since that incident and now that I am pursuing a career in a conservation related field. I realize how lucky I was to witness such a rare moment. The scene felt a bit traumatizing at that time, but now that I think about it, the event was just a small part of sustaining the ecosystem by regulating the food chain. I realize now how nature plays its part to regulate the ecosystem and what our role, as humans should be to protect and sustain this function. I have had several opportunities where I encountered various wildlife even after this incident, but my first encounter with the leopard ambushing its prey will always be the most memorable.
Binaya Adhikari is a conservationist and wildlife enthusiast who is currently working as the manager of Pokhara Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Center. He is pursuing his Master’s degree in forestry at IOF Pokhara.