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Photographer Captures Rare Black Leopard On Film

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Photographer Captures Rare Black Leopard On Film

A wildlife photographer in India has managed to capture a rare black leopard on film, having seized the opportunity when he found himself just 30ft away from the animal.

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Anurag Gawande, 24, filmed the melanistic leopard while on a safari at Tadoba National Park in western Maharashtra state last month.

In the footage, the big cat can be seen crossing a track and staring straight into the camera as Anurag films.

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Anurag said he was just 30ft away from the leopard when he spotted it.

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

He recalled: "It was surprising because we thought we will see a tiger but we saw black leopard strolling on the pathway!"

Amazingly, it wasn't the first time the photographer had encountered the rare leopard, having also spotted it a year ago.

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However, he said he was equally thrilled to have seen it again, adding: "This was my second time that I was watching it.

"I felt the same thrill while watching it but this time I was aware of its moment. We kept our vehicle off and kept enough distance so that it will not move from the spot."

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

The leopard had been hunting a deer at the national park when Anurag spotted it.

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Anurag said: "We were tracking a tiger but on the way on Tadoba lake we heard a deer call and at the next moment we saw Black leopard. It was sitting on the pathway.

"Then he saw a deer and then he tried to hunt that deer but he failed. Then again it came back on road and sat there for 15-20 minutes and we got some amazing shot of the majestic animal.

"It is the only black leopard of Tadoba national park."

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters
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According to Smithsonian Magazine, 'melanism' is the term used by experts for the black colour variants of cats like leopards, jaguars and ocelots.

"Over the years, researchers have come up with a handful of hypotheses to explain why some wild cat species have these darker coats," the outlet explains.

"The black cats are likely better concealed at night, but the variant may also allow cats to warm faster in the sun or even ward off certain parasites."

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But it's not necessarily all good, as Smithsonian Magazine also cites a study from 2019, which argues that the trouble with being an all-black cat is that 'markings critical to feline communication get obscured'.

Britannica states that melanistic leopards and jaguars are 'uncommon', explaining how some studies estimate that at most 11 percent of these animals have this colouration.

However, confirmed sightings are less frequent, especially of black leopards.

Featured Image Credit: Caters

Topics: World News, News, Animals

Jess Hardiman
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