A family vacation to Tadoba Andhari National Park in Maharashtra turned surreal for a 23-year-old amateur photographer when he spotted a black panther standing around 20 feet away from him.
Abhishek Pagnis, a Pune-based engineering student, considers himself quite lucky to be present at the moment the elusive black panther made an appearance. “It was my first ever wildlife trip. We waited for over 2.5 hours around the area where he (the leopard) is usually spotted hoping to see him,” he told the indianexpress.com.
The photograph, which dates back to June 2019, went viral after it was shared online recently.
Recalling the moment before the wild cat was sighted, Pagnis said, “The animals around raised an alarm and started making noises. When a predator animal such as a lion or tiger is nearby, prey animals like deer and monkeys let out alarm calls to alert others. This was our cue to stop our vehicles and prepare the cameras.”
However, Pagnis said he didn’t expect then that he would spot the rare big cat. “He is actually a shy leopard. The ones seen in Kabini Reserve are quite bold leopards. So, there are many sightings. However, this one from Tadoba is very shy,” said Pagnis referring to black panther-leopard couple spotted in the jungles of Kabini in Karnataka.
Though there have been others instances where the leopard has been spotted, Pagnis feels that he was more fortunate as the animal wandered around the area for almost half an hour and stood as close as 20 feet from him. “We were not scared and instead were thrilled to have spotted the leopard.”
Pagnis, who is contemplating whether to continue wildlife photography as a hobby or pursue it professionally, said he was not expecting the picture to go viral. “This was clicked in June last year and went viral only today morning after someone posted it on Twitter,” he said.
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