After the photographs of the magastic rare black panther have gone viral, the man behind the camera opens up about the blood, sweat and years of hard work behind the viral images. In an interview with Business Insider, Shaaz Jung, the wildlife photographer, shares how he has spent the last five years capturing Saya – the melanistic leopard who has found his way into the Kabini forest in Karnataka. “When people see these pictures, they think there are several leopards, but actually there’s just one black panther where we are – one melanistic leopard in the dense forest of Nagerhole. So, it was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Jung said.
According to Jung this was once in a lifetime opportunity for him as so far black panthers were only studied in the forests of Malaysia with the help of remote camera traps. “The result is the first portfolio of a melanistic leopard where we have got him hunting, courting, fighting everything. My aim was to go deeper and understand how he is surviving in a forest where he doesn’t belong,” he told Business Insider.
Jung said 'Saya' is "not just surviving, he is thriving."
For two-three years straight, Jung has been going into the jungle at 6 am, spending all day out there till 6.30 pm, for all seven days in a week. “I would consider myself very lucky if I saw him twice a week and a lot of times it would be just fleeting glimpses,” he said.
View this post on Instagram
That lonely feeling, when the forest goes eerily silent but you know you’re not alone. That paranormal sensation where you can’t help but feel like you’re being watched. On most days, I look around and see nothing. But sometimes, when the wind dies and the leaves stop swaying, your eyes meet their eyes. . . The jungle is always alive, always watching. . . Which pair of eyes do you think surprised me most? . . #shaazjung #nikon #nikonindia #nature #wildlife #blackpanther #tiger #lion #cheetah #bigcats
The 31-year old wildlife filmmaker and photographer also owns a wildlife safari lodge in Nagarhole National Park.
Jung said the park is one of the few places in the world that have tigers, leopards, the black panther, elephants, bears, dholes and more. “This is truly the real jungle book."
Black panthers are usually found in evergreen forests, where the thick canopy of trees doesn’t let the sun into the undergrowth.
Jung, father is the former Indian cricketer Saad Bin Jung. He is an economics graduate and was heading for the corporate world, until he came to the forest when he was 20, along with his parents who are wildlife conservationists.