Spectacular Photos Show Big Cats As They’re Meant To Live

One photo shows a melanistic leopard — better known as a black panther — cautiously but curiously poking its head out from behind a tree. Another shows the same cat, tail raised and ready to spring as it stalks prey in the jungle mists.

The photos went viral this week, accumulating millions of views as people hailed the leopard as the second coming of Rudyard Kipling’s Bagheera, the beloved leopard from The Jungle Book.

Both photos come from the lens of Shaaz Jung, known as the “Leopard Man of India” for his astonishing shots of the majestic cats taken deep in the country’s jungles and forests.

“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 told BusinessInsider.

The leopard has been named Saya by local wildlife enthusiasts, and he’s a bit out of his element in the deciduous Kabini forest, which is also home to a tiger preserve. Normally, leopards like Saya live in dense jungle, where the thick canopy and lack of light play to their advantage.

Jung patiently followed Saya, snapping photos of the big cat hunting, fighting and courting potential mates.

“He’s not just surviving, he is thriving,” Jung said.

Jung is a wildlife photographer, NatGeo’s director of photography for films and a big cat specialist in his own right. He also photographs India’s tigers, and his shots reveal a connection to — and a deep appreciation of — these regal apex predators who have been pushed back by human development and the resulting habitat loss.

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The man behind the camera: Shaaz Jung.
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Tigers share a quiet moment as they trade scents. Photo: Shaaz Jung
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Leopards are known for their exceptional climbing ability as well as their preternatural hunting skills. Photo: Shaaz Jung
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A leopard enjoys a mid-day respite from the sun — and bothersome rivals — on a broad tree branch. Photo: Shaaz Jung
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A tiger stops for a drink with the water reflecting its wary gaze. Photo: Shaaz Jung
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Tigers are the world’s largest, heaviest cats, the apex predators among apex predators. This close-up is a reminder of how beautiful and regal they are. Photo: Shaaz Jung

8 thoughts on “Spectacular Photos Show Big Cats As They’re Meant To Live”

      1. But the numbers of these majestic tigers are dwindling 😦
        Leopards are still somewhat common though. They cross paths with villagers often enough (much to the detriment of the leopard)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The original viral post did not credit him, and it was only by chance that I saw him reply to it and ask that they credit photographers for their work. I’m glad he did that, since it led me to his other work. It’s not always easy to track down the original owners of photographs on the internet, especially if an image has become wildly popular. That’s unfortunate.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. HEY LITTLE BUDDY! HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY, YOU BEAUTIFUL HUNK OF GREATNESS? I JUST WANTED TO COMPLIMENT YOU FOUR TOTALLY UNRIVALED THOUGHTFULLNESS. THE BIG BUDDY HAS PROBABLY THE CLEANEST FACE THIS SIDE OF THE MISSISSIPPI! YOU ARE SUCH A GEM! KEEP UP THE GOOD HYGIENE ON THE BIG BUDDY! YOU MIGHT JUST GET BACK ON THE TEMPTATION WAGON FOR SUCH UNSELFISH HUMAN GROOMING!

    Liked by 2 people

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