Going on a safari trip is pretty much a gamble. Nature is unpredictable, and there’s no way of knowing what you’re going to see, and when you’re going to see it. Luckily for this Indian amateur photographer (and for us), he managed to not only see, but also snap a few incredible pictures, of an extremely rare black panther on his first safari trip ever.
Abhishek Pangis, an engineering student and amateur photographer from Pune (western India), was excited to go on his first safari trip in India’s Tadoba Reserve. The first day of the two-day safari trip went by without any remarkable sightings. The man’s slight disappointment soon turned into the excitement of a once in a lifetime experience.
Pangis was in one of the last jeeps in the convoy with his parents. While the other jeeps advanced, Pangis’ jeep stuck behind for a few more minutes. That was when the man came face to face with the majestic beast. Stunned by the beauty of the magnificent creature, Pangis didn’t take any pictures for the first ten minutes. He froze in his place in awe of the marvelous wild beast.
Luckily, the big cat stuck around for about 40 minutes, giving the amateur photographer plenty of time to recover from his shock. Pangis later recalled those life-changing minutes in an interview with People Magazine. Pangis said: “I went blank when I spotted it. I hadn’t seen anything so beautiful, I was completely stunned and came back to my senses after 10 minutes and started clicking pictures.” The man continued: “Usually people have seen it around for two or three minutes but I was very lucky as I could see it for 40 minutes. I witnessed it drinking water from a pond, marking its territory and stalking langurs and monkeys. It was a brilliant experience. We saw him in peak summer of June last month when it was 40-45 degrees (104-113 Fahrenheit) of extreme heat, as there is more chance of the wild cats coming out for water. At one point, this leopard, who should be four years old, even walked past our jeep. It was a surreal moment.”
Pangis knows that he’s extremely lucky for the opportunity to see such a stunning creature for so long and from such a small distance. “I knew there are black leopards but I was very lucky to have spotted it during my first safari trip. Professional wildlife photographers spend millions and several months to catch a glimpse of such rare animals. There were 10-15 safari jeeps but they left when they did not see the leopard and just three or four safari jeeps stayed with us. None of them had a camera so when it came out in the open, it was just me who had the camera and could take its pictures.”
While it might come as a surprise to many people, black panthers are actually the exact same species as regular panthers. They have dark black coats thanks to a mutation that makes them produce excess amounts of pigments in their skin and fur. Either way, there’s no doubt that the amateur photographer is very lucky to capture such incredible pictures of the rare black panther.
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