For the past few weeks, Netizens are going gaga over a photograph of a black panther resembling that of Bagheera from ‘The Jungle Book’. Recently, the photographs of the big black cat and his mate residing in Kabini, Karnataka have surfaced the internet. There have been speculations as to who has clicked the pictures.
Meet the personal photographer of ‘The Eternal Couple’ – Mithun H
The Personal Photographer of ‘The Eternal Couple’
Meet the personal photographer of ‘The Eternal Couple’ featuring a black panther named Saaya and a leopardess named Cleopatra who have been roaming in the jungles of Kabini for the past 4 years. It took Mithun H, a wildlife photographer 6 days to capture the big black cat and his mate during the winters of 2019 at the Kabini Forest Reserve comprising south-eastern part of Nagarahole National Park. In one of his Instagram posts, he has captioned the photograph as ‘The Eternal Couple’.
The 31-year-old professional wildlife photographer is known for working on ‘The Real Black Panther’ for Nat Geo Wild. He has an experience of 12 years under his belt.
“I had to wait for six days for this in the same spot since I could hear the Panther and Cleopatra mating about a 100 meters away in the thick undergrowth but could not see them due to limited visibility”, he said talking about the challenges he faced.
“They had made a large kill and would not move until it was over. That is where the knowledge and years of experience of following and tracking the Panther came in handy. I just had to wait at one of his favorite paths since that was the place he would get her since that was the edge of his territory, and this he did after 6 days,” he added. (Source: The Indian Express)
“It was a fruitful wait though. I could wait for 6 years for a moment like this,” he said.
He said it’s the mystery of the woods that keeps him going. “You never know what you are going to encounter at the next bend. The woods are mysterious and unlock my passion. You could be waiting for days and months and years for that perfect shot. But when it happens, those few seconds are magical and to live for after all that time. That is the beauty of wildlife photography.”
Saaya and Cleopatra, the jewels in the crown of Kabini
Cleopatra has been a heartthrob of Kabini since 2009 while Saaya entered the woods in 2014 as a sub-adult shy cat trying to establish territory.
“The forest comes alive as they trot nonchalantly in his fabled kingdom. Usually, in the courting pairs, generally, it is the male who takes charge and moves around with the female following close behind. But with this couple, it was definitely Cleo who was in charge while the panther followed.” He said he has been following the couple since 2016 when Saaya paired up with Cleo.
“It was their gaze looking directly at the camera. I got them on camera quite a few times earlier when they would be together once a year for mating. But this recent one was special because of that perfect moment when they both turned together without a care in the world and the fact that so much patience and work had gone behind that image,” he said while describing the phenomenal shot.
What does Mithun aim at now?
“The more knowledgeable the people are, the more the limelight, the more the conservation efforts”, he declares.
Not to forget, the Karnataka government is doing a wonderful job when it comes to the protection of such gems of nature and other wildlife.