The black panther and leopard couple.
A wildlife photographer from India has managed a feat a few have achieved so far.
Mithun Hunugund, the Bengaluru-based photographer, has captured a photograph of a rare leopard couple — a male black panther and a regular rosette spotted leopardess in Karnataka's Kabini forest, after a long wait.
"I shot this panther couple photograph in Kabini forest, waiting six days for this glorious moment," Hunugund, who has also worked with National Geographic, said.
The photograph of the wild cats has gone viral on social media across India, mesmerising wildlife enthusiasts and the general public alike.
Though he released the photograph only a couple of days ago, Hunugund actually shot it in the winter of 2019, either in November or December.
In the image, both the panthers look to their right, directly into the lens, with the female panther in the front and the majestic black panther behind.
Though the disposition of both the big cats seemed calm but attentive, the black panther still seems fearful with its eyes burning bright from its pitch-black body.
Both the big cats stood amid scattered dry leaves covering the little grass. Their paws were not visible as they were sunk in dry leaves.
According to Hunugund, he was with his team when he managed the famous picture, for which he had been following the animal for six days.
"I have been visiting Kabini for the last 15 years and following big cats, leopards and tigers individually. This black panther has come into our lives since 2015," said the 31-year-old photographer.
Following the appearance of the black panther five years ago, Hunugund said he has been following the journey of this black big cat and how it pairs up with females in the jungles of Kabini.
Fortunately, the photographer managed to click the black beast from his safari vehicle itself as nobody is allowed to deviate from the safari route or alight from the Forest Department vehicle.
"We have to be fortunate to see it," said Hunugund about the rarity of the moment.
According to the photographer, the animals in Kabini are wild and free, and more scared of humans than animals in a setting like the Bengaluru Zoo.
He said the Kabini forest is a vast expanse, connected to three to four national parks spanning the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Some of the animals which thrive in the reserve include tigers, panthers, wild dogs, elephants, bisons, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, sloth bears, common langurs, bonnet macaque and a variety of reptiles and birds.
Indo-Asian News Service
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