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18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
BAGHEERA - THE BLACK PANTHER

On our fifth visit to Kabini, we finally caught a rare glimpse of the jet black cat, variously referred to as Blackie or Bagheera, in honour of the black panther in Kipling’s Jungle Book! On our earlier Kabini trips I had photographed many of the other stars of this luxuriant south Indian jungle - from tigers, elephants, leopards, dholes to a variety of other herbivores such as gaurs, sambar, chital as well as the diverse avi-fauna. But to be able to make an image of what is probably now the world’s most sought after cat in wildlife photography circles, was a big bonus! Passion, patience and persistence had come together to create this happy sighting. The special sighting seemed all too brief, but it nonetheless afforded us a fleeting glimpse of this supremely sleek, supple and silky black cat.I was glad to have been able to have created a side-on habitat shot of this melanistic leopard amidst the monsoon drenched greenery of the tropical forest-scape, rather than yet another ‘Blackie on the road’ or ‘Blackie on a tree kind of image’.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 06.2019
Date Uploaded: 11.2020
Photo Location: India
Camera: NIKON D5
Copyright: © Amartya Mukherjee