An Indian tourist had a dramatic experience while on safari when he came face to face with a very rare black leopard, and the photos he was able to take were even rarer.
Engineering student Abhishek Pangis, 23, saw the black cat in a forest reserve, then he waited 40 minutes to snap it as it stared straight at him. The student said he'd never seen anything so beautiful.
"I hadn't seen anything so beautiful. I was completely stunned and came back to my senses after 10 minutes and started clicking pictures," Pangis said.
Typically, Tadoba Reserve visitors can only see the black leopard for two or three minutes, if they're fortunate enough to see it at all. However, Abhishek was able to spot the unique leopard for a long 40 minutes.
"Usually people have seen it around for two-three minutes but I was very lucky as I could see it for 40 minutes." He continued.
Pangis and his parents were on a two-day safari trip to Tadoba Reserve in India. From Pune, India, the amateur photographer spotted the leopard on the second day of the trip.
I witnessed it drinking water from a pond, marking its territory and stalking langurs and monkeys. It was a brilliant experience.
We saw him in the peak summer of June last month when it was 40-45 degrees of extreme heat as there is a more chance of the wild cats coming out for water.
At one point, this leopard who should be four years old even walked past our jeep. It was a surreal moment.
The rare cat owes its fabulous black coat to melanism, with excess black pigment developing in the skin and hair due to a recessive genetic mutation. Melanism helps the leopard to blend into the shadows and become almost invisible in the dark.
Pangis acknowledged that professional photographers could sometimes spend days or even months and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to snap this incredible, black leopard.
Recalling the unforgettable moment he sighted the leopard, Abhishek admitted that his mind 'went blank' when he first laid eyes on it.
"I knew there are black leopards but I was very lucky to have spotted them during my first safari trip," the student said.
There were 10-15 other safari vehicles with them before the encounter, but they gave up looking for the gorgeous leopard. Only three or four jeeps remained, and the student was lucky enough to have stayed to witness the breathtaking cat.
"None of them had a camera so when it came out in the open, it was just me who had the camera and could take its pictures.."
There's no doubt that this experience is beyond expectations, and we can only thank the 23-year-old for 'coming to his senses' and allowing us to see such beauty through his photographs.