This wildlife photographer, Mithun H, has a passion for big cats. In the Kabini Forest Reserve in Karnataka, India, 2 big cats were spending time there and Mithun loves observing them there. His patience and tenacity were paid off when he was able to photograph one of his favorite big cat couples – Saaya and Cleopatra in the pose of a lifetime.
He knew exactly what he wanted to capture but the cat-couple wasn’t cooperating.So, on the sixth day, he struck out, when the pair made a big kill and were enjoying a feast. The photographer sat in his spot, knowing they would walk away together the moment they finished with their meal.
Black panthers and leopards come from the same species, they’re both variations and can interbreed and the offspring would not be hybrids.
The female leopard and male black panther have been a couple for four years, but Mithun has been watching them for much longer. “The female Cleopatra has been a heartthrob of Kabini since 2009. I have followed her for 12 years now – ever since she was a tiny cub. The panther Saaya entered our lives in 2014 as a sub-adult shy cat trying to establish territory. It was only in 2016, when he finally asserted his dominance, that he paired up with Cleo for the first time and I have followed their journey since.”
“I can still close my eyes and relive that moment every single day of my life. You don’t see that often. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This 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 six days. It was a fruitful wait though. I could wait for 6 years for a moment like this.”