One rainy evening at Orange County Resorts – Kabini, I along with 18 other wildlife enthusiasts commenced on our safari into the Nagarhole National Park. As we neared our destination, the incessant rain ceased to beat down upon us and we were gifted with a sliver of beautiful sunlight.
The heavy and unpredictable monsoons this year have rendered the Nagarhole National Park dense and lush with new foliage, and sighting a Big Cat in such weather is nearly impossible. But as is part of my role as a naturalist, I encouraged the guests to scan either side of the path, as well as the treetops. I kept their spirits high by telling them about a few surprise sightings this monsoon on the very road on which we were travelling. All the while, I myself kept hoping for a miracle sighting.
Suddenly, one of the guest – Mr. Abhijit Javeri – drew our attention towards a black form that was making its way up a tree near our vehicle. I directed our driver to halt immediately.
We were all witnessing what was an unprecedented sighting of a Black Leopard (Melanistic Leopard), at Nagarhole National Park, Kabini.
The majestic Black Leopard had a complete black coat and amber eyes. Upon realizing that it was being watched, it took little time in performing a vanishing act. It disappeared into the bushes in no time at all. What an exhilarating experience that was! We all took a few minutes to process this defining event we had just been a part of.
Thanks to Mr. Parekh, another guest, who managed to capture a few images in those brief 8-9 seconds of this historic encounter. These images will supplicate the indelible memories that are etched in our memory.