To see a wild black panther, the melanistic form of a leopard, has long been a dream of mine. After three weeks in India, I finally succeeded in fulfilling it in the jungles of Kabini, part of the Nagharholes Tiger Reserve and National Park in the state of Karnataka.
I had seen my first leopard during a safari in Masai Mara in Kenya, when I was 15 years old. The colour slide film that I had used just recorded the smooth feline as a dark shadow. Despite that I showed my photos and gave lectures at my school. Ten years later when I returned to East Africa, I was lucky to follow a female leopard with her two cubs for more than 20 minutes in Samburu in northern Kenya.
But to see and take photos of a black leopard, I could never imagine. In 2018, however, when I heard about a black panther in southern India, I tried to locate this elusive feline by talking to some of my Indian friends and was directed towards the Kabini forests, a part of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve and National Park in Karnataka. I decided to travel there hoping to catch a glimpse of “Blackie”, as they call him, in the middle of March 2018.
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March - May 2020