Recently, the internet came in love with wildlife photographer Shaaz Jung after his photos of a rare black panther walking around in Karnataka’s Nagarhole Tiger Reserve surfaced on Social Media.
In Shaaz’s pictures, the elusive black panther, sumptuous as ever, walked around the trees in the jungles of Kabini.
Shaaz Jung managed to take the pictures of the Ghost of the Forest, after giving the last three to five years and 12 hours a day tracking the panther. According to wildlife officials, the panther is just four to five years old.
Speaking to India Today Television, the wildlife cinematographer stated, “It’s been an incredible journey. I have been studying leopards for the past 10 years, but in 2015, I first met this melanistic leopard, and it gave me a once in a lifetime chance 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 pitched upon the melanistic leopard in the jungles of Kabini, Shaaz Jung stated, “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 observed him.”
On the difficulties he faced while tracking the animal daily for three to five years, the photographer stated, “From 2017 to 2020, we had a filming and research permit, and for the first time, we had to make a film on this melanistic leopard.
So that needed hours and hours every day, over these three years, to trace this animal. He shows you the art of patience because 8-10 hours every day and I would be thrilled and lucky, the team would be happy basically, if we saw him for just 12-15 seconds a week.”
“This is the beauty of the jungle. Every day it looks 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 retain you are going to his forest, if he doesn’t need to be seen there’s absolutely no way you are going to see him,” he added.
Shaaz Jung also told India Today Television that at Nagarhole, there is only one black panther which they have been recording, but, in the other neighboring forests, there have been sightings of other melanistic leopards.
He also reported that for the film, he named the black panther Saya, which means shadow. In his film, he stated that people can stream it on Disney+ Hotstar and is also accessible on National Geographic Channels.