I had heard stories of this species while in Bhutan, one being a close encounter with a farmer and the cat stalking a barking deer and her calf. In the mountains this widespread species grow larger than in the lowland and can take on a young deer.

Wild cats are notoriously hard to spot as they are so elusive and can walk silently on dry vegetation. Many are also nocturnal. The excellent camouflage is making them extraordinarily hard to spot in the forest. But a few times they cross a road or venture out in the open during the day, like in a pasture or a part of land without any trees or thickets.

This encounter was on a very bad and rarely used road, and it was about to cross it, much likely due to the sound of the car engine, but as the other side of the road was a very steep slope it was not at all an easy escape. It was amazing to watch how it climbed up with each step carefully calculated. I looked glued to the slope.

It would perhaps normally have escaped into the forest with a couple of jumps, but here it was all about getting to safety through an extremely risky route. It didn’t look back at us even once, only focused on the next step up and away from us.

Even here against the open dirt, it is well camouflaged, and if it had not been in the middle of the road for a split second and just stood still on the slope I would most likely have missed it.

It is an amazingly beautiful and agile creature and the only wild cat species I encountered during my Bhutan adventure.

Elevation: 1519 meters

  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: NIKON D4S
  • Focal length: 1000mm
  • ISO: 3200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400 s

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