Tag: Bagheera

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

Unused Audio Commentary: The Jungle Book (2016)

Big Buddy: Okay, so we’re taking a break from horror and science fiction for a little while and going with something more Buddy-friendly.

Buddy: More family-friendly.

Big Buddy: Yes, but we chose this one so you don’t spend the movie hiding in your litterbox. Anyway the movie opens with the young Mowgli and a pack of young wolves running through the jungle. They’re being chased by a black panther.

Buddy: Wow! That guy is really cool! Look at him.

Big Buddy: Looks like the panther is catching up to Mowgli and the wolves.

Buddy: Get ’em, panther! Get ’em! Eat them!

Big Buddy: Calm down, dude.

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Buddy: You calm down, he’s…oh! Mowgli fell off a branch! The panther is on him…Mmmm I wonder what human tastes like.

Big Buddy: Seriously?

Buddy: I bite you, don’t I?

Big Buddy: This topic is getting uncomfortable. Thank God you’re only 10 pounds. So it turns out the panther is a more civilized cat than Buddy and we learn he’s not gonna eat Mowgli. The panther is Bagheera, Mowgli’s friend and kind of like a surrogate dad to the “man cub.”

Buddy: Cool! I didn’t know jungle cats have human servants too. Mowgli must have to shovel for hours to clean Bagheera’s litter box.

Big Buddy: Uh, sure. Something like that. Mowgli, Bagheera and the little wolves head off together toward home, where they join the wolf pack and Raksha, who is Mowgli’s adopted mother.

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Buddy: This is not realistic. Why is the panther not eating the dogs?

Big Buddy: Because this is a Disney movie. And those are wolves, little dude. Did I not feed you today or something? Damn. Now the wolves have the cubs recite the law of the jungle, and we’ve got a voice-over montage by Bagheera.

Buddy: Wow, a lot of days pass without rain. Bagheera says it’s “the driest season that anyone could remember.” The jungle looks all shriveled up. What is this place?

Big Buddy: That’s the Peace Rock. It’s where all the animals of the jungle come during the drought to drink from the pool and sate their thirst.

Buddy: It looks like a lunch buffet. Rhinos and wildabeasts and birds and delicious-looking animals with antlers. They all back away when they see Bagheera because they know what’s up. Cats rule.

Big Buddy: But according to the laws of the jungle, there is no fighting or killing or eating each other at Peace Rock.

Buddy: Well that stinks. Why would anyone agree to that?

Big Buddy: Because it’s Peace Rock! And the law of the jungle says during droughts, when the water is so low that you can see the rock, all animals can come and drink without fear of being eaten.

Buddy: Mowgli’s scooping up the water and…whoah.

Big Buddy: A tiger.

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Buddy: He’s majestic! Wow, look at how the other animals back up like 100 feet. That’s respect!

Big Buddy: That’s Shere Khan, the most feared animal in the jungle.

Buddy: He looks like me! He has stripes, I have stripes too. He has long whiskers, I have long whiskers. He has big muscles, I have big muscles!

Big Buddy: Oh yeah. The resemblance is uncanny.

Buddy: Thanks!

Big Buddy: Have I ever told you what sarcasm is?

Buddy: Like those coffins the ancient Egyptians used, all decorated and stuff.

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Big Buddy: No, you moron. It’s…

Buddy: Wow! Listen to that roar! The other animals give Shere Khan as much space as he needs. Peace Rock becomes his own personal watering hole.

Big Buddy: Shere Khan is not happy with the wolves.

Buddy: Of course he’s not. They’re talking trash. Shere Khan is obviously the hero of this story. Go Khan! Go Khan!

Big Buddy: Now Bagheera is getting between Shere Khan and the wolves. Shere Khan says he smells a “man cub.” This is about Mowgli.

Buddy: Ah! Okay, so humans are in short supply in the jungle, and Shere Khan isn’t happy that Bagheera has his own human, but Shere Khan does not. He wants Mowgli to brush him, bring him food and scoop his box.

Big Buddy: Not exactly.

Buddy: Like anyone wants to hear your interpretation, Mr. “Jon Snow and Daenerys Rule Happily Ever After on Game of Thrones.”

Big Buddy: Touché. Hold the fort down for a minute, will you? I’ve gotta take care of numbah one.

Buddy: Okay.

Big Buddy: Remember, no dead air!

Buddy: Okay.

Big Buddy: What the &@$% did you do?

Buddy: I’m Shere Khan!

Big Buddy: Are those…crushed Cheez Doodles all over my floor? What in the world possessed you to roll all over them as if they’re catnip?

Buddy: Because I wanted to be orange, like Shere Khan! Now I look exactly like him! ROOOOOAAAAARRRRR!

Big Buddy: Give me that broom.

Buddy: Get it yourself, Shere Khan does no one’s bidding!

Big Buddy: You little…

— END OF RECORDING —

 

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