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Incredible Photos Of A Rare Black Panther Roaming In The Jungles Of India

Posted by on July 23, 2020 in Environment, Wildlife with 0 Comments

By Jade Small | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

(TMU) – After studying Economics at the Utrecht University in Europe, wildlife filmmaker and photographer Shaaz Jung returned to the forests of south India where he spent most of his childhood.


His lifelong fascination with the jungle and its wild cats, leopards, and the mysterious black panthers, in particular, was instrumental in changing his career path from corporate to conservationist and photographer extraordinaire.

Jung’s goal was to discover and understand the lives of the masters of darkness, the black panthers. To fulfill his dream, Jung explored the Kabini Forest in Karnataka, India over the past couple of years and returned not only wiser but also with stunning film and photographs of the elusive and majestic black cat of the forest.

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I studied the jungle and drew intricate patterns of shadow art, tracked creatures of the moon with an astrological chart, I’ve seen the flight of a Ghost-bird and how it changed through the seasons, how her swan-song summoned a Phoenix to defeat all the demons, I’ve followed the sun through its cycles, followed ancient tribes who gathered their disciples, I’ve immersed myself in the jungles endless knowledge bases, but not a step closer to understanding the basics. . . For a moonlit vibe, who better than the night himself? It’s hard to comprehend how easily this animal would probably blend into the night. Hard to visualise how ethereal it may be to see him in nothing but the moonshine. As obscure as darkness, we’d be oblivious to his presence but for the occasional hints of luminous eyes and white canines. In search of the unknown, here’s a visual concept of what it could look like, however the real magic that resonates around it lies in the fact that we will never know. . . #shaazjung #nikon #nature #wildlife #wildlifephotography #earthpix #blackpanther

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“I spent two and a half years in the Kabini Forest, between December 2017 and January 2020, on a filming permit. This filming permit allowed [me and the team] to make a documentary on the black panther for National Geographic.”

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I studied the jungle and drew intricate patterns of shadow art, tracked creatures of the moon with an astrological chart, I’ve seen the flight of a Ghost-bird and how it changed through the seasons, how her swan-song summoned a Phoenix to defeat all the demons, I’ve followed the sun through its cycles, followed ancient tribes who gathered their disciples, I’ve immersed myself in the jungles endless knowledge bases, but not a step closer to understanding the basics. . . For a moonlit vibe, who better than the night himself? It’s hard to comprehend how easily this animal would probably blend into the night. Hard to visualise how ethereal it may be to see him in nothing but the moonshine. As obscure as darkness, we’d be oblivious to his presence but for the occasional hints of luminous eyes and white canines. In search of the unknown, here’s a visual concept of what it could look like, however the real magic that resonates around it lies in the fact that we will never know. . . #shaazjung #nikon #nature #wildlife #wildlifephotography #earthpix #blackpanther

A post shared by Shaaz Jung (@shaazjung) on

According to Jung, every day was like a journey into the unknown, and their attempts to discover the panther’s secrets ended up being one of the most challenging projects he had ever worked on.

“This black panther is a leopard with an abundance of melanin. Unlike other cats in the Kabini Forest, there is only one black panther,” Jung explained. “This of course makes him far more difficult to photograph. However, since 2015… photographers have been fortunate enough to see him and take pictures. We are, however, the first to make a dedicated movie on him.”

Patience is definitely one trait all wildlife photographers need to learn early in their careers and it’s probably safe to say the entire team on the project has mastered this particular art during their time in the jungle.

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An eerie glow of first light hangs between the trees, silhouettes of branches dance without their leaves, wicked is the wind that waltzes thick as thieves, frigid is the mist for in it something breathes. . . This image does absolutely no justice to what we had witnessed that morning. We drove out at first light and watched darkness lift to reveal nothing but ambiguous shapes in the thick mist. We parked ourselves under the old Banyan, where he was seen the day before. The silence was deafening and dawn was like the dead of night. No songbirds sang, no crickets hummed yet there was an eerie sensation of being watched. Spending years on the same track, tracking the same animals, strengthens your intuition and within minutes a ghostly figure slowly took shape on the road ahead. It drifted by us in absolute silence and was by far my most chilling experience with the black panther. . . View my story for the BTS video. At this point, the light was far better but the image above was shot in extremely low light. I’ve played around with it in post to revive some light but kept it dark to try and retain some of it’s original vibe. . . #shaazjung #nikonz7 #nikonasia #blackpanther #wildlife #nature #natgeo #nikon #kabini

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“It’s been an incredible journey,” Jung said. “I would like to thank the Karnataka Forest Department for protecting these forests. Their hard work enables us to catch glimpses of these beautiful animals that are thriving in our Indian forests.”

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This year was about exploring the unexplored and understanding the unfathomable. My 2019 belonged to the worlds most elusive. Over 150 sightings, 8TB of images, 50TB of footage, a National Geographic film and lifetime of unforgettable memories. We spent ten hours a day, everyday, trying to understand the black panther but true wisdom in the jungle is knowing you know nothing about its true origins. Everyday was a journey into the unknown, as we attempted to unravel the secrets of a cat very few have documented long enough to understand not just his character, but also the little idiosyncrasies that make him unique. The result is an overwhelming portfolio, and possibly the first in the world, of a melanistic leopard in the wild hunting, mating, fighting and thriving against the odds of natural selection. I want to thank all of you for being a part of my journey this year. The jungle can be a lonely place but thanks to all of you, never have I felt alone. Nature is where it all begins and I hope my work this year has inspired you to fall in love with the wilderness and visit the jungles. Have a wonderful new year and see you on the flip side. Shaaz . . Here are ten panther images from 2019. Which one was your favourite? . . #shaazjung #blackpanther #natgeo #natgeowild #nature #wildlife #wildlifephotography

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Raised in South India, with jungle forests on his doorstep and several of India’s best national parks in the area, Jung grew up in wonder and respect for the jungle. “The jungle is a labyrinth riddled with secrets that are waiting to be uncovered. Every day in the forest was like a puzzle and I had to put the pieces of this puzzle together in order to successfully unlock its secrets,” he said of his 30-month jungle journey.

Unlock the secrets he most assuredly did, capturing these stunning moments on film. “The camera allowed me to take photographs, immortalizing these moments, relishing life, and inspiring the world. Wildlife is unpredictable and I love the challenge of tracking your subject before you can photograph it. It feels far more rewarding,” Jung said.

Shaaz Jung followed his dream, a dream turned into reality, taking him all over the world to capture the amazing creatures that roam Earth. Now also an ambassador for Nikon India and Samsung, Jung runs Safari Lodges in South India and in East Africa, where he also guides private safaris.

More info: shaazjung.com | Instagram

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