Shaaz Jung on viral Black Panther pics: It was a once in a lifetime opportunity
Recently, the internet fell in love with wildlife photographer Shaaz Jung after his pictures of a rare black panther roaming around in Karnataka's Nagarhole Tiger Reserve surfaced on Twitter.
In Shaaz's pictures, the elusive black panther, majestic as ever, walked around the trees in the jungles of Kabini. Shaaz managed to capture the pictures of the Ghost of the Forest, after spending the last five years and 12 hours a day tracking the panther. According to wildlife officials, the panther is probably just four to five years old.
The wildlife cinematographer said, "It's been an absolutely incredible journey. I have been studying leopards for the past 10 years, but in 2015, I first encountered this melanistic leopard and it gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to finally shed some light on the master of darkness. To finally document an animal that hadn't been studied this intimately before."
On how he stumbled upon the melanistic leopard in the jungles of Kabini, Shaaz said, "I was in Bangalore when it was first spotted. It took a year for me to see him because he hadn't established his territory yet. So, I spent a year on safari trying to track him, and then in 2016 I first saw him."
A black panther roaming in the jungles of Kabini, India. pic.twitter.com/UT8zodvv0m— Earth (@earth) July 4, 2020
On the challenges he faced while tracking the animal daily for five years, the photographer said, "From 2017 to 2020, we had a filming and research permit, and for the first time ever we had to make a film on this melanistic leopard. So that required hours and hours every day, over these three years, to track this animal. He really teaches you the art of patience because 8-10 hours every day and I would be extremely happy and lucky, the team would be jubilant basically if we saw him for just 12-15 seconds a week."
"This is the beauty of the jungle. Every day it seems like a puzzle and you have to go in there and try to put the pieces together. If you do you see the cat and more often than not, you don't, because the panther, you have to remember you are going to his forest, if he doesn't want to be seen there's absolutely no way you are going to see him," he added.