(TMU) – While most of us have only experienced jungles and their wild inhabitants through documentaries and social media, which, thankfully, has brought the wonders of nature into our homes.
Wildlife photographer Mithun, based in India, is one such person dedicated to bringing the mysteries of the jungles to life for those who may never be fortunate enough to experience the wild first-hand.
Born in the jungles of South India, Mithun grew up fascinated by wildlife and had a passion for big cats, leopards in particular.
He worked on ‘The Real Black Panther’ for Nat Geo Wild, which undoubtedly fueled his passion for the jungle and the big wild cats further. He now uses his knowledge in tracking big cats as well as leading exclusive, personalized private safaris.
Viewers were enthralled by his photograph of a leopard with a black panther standing behind her, and his post went viral quickly. The two wild cats are seemingly staring into the camera quite calmly, and was captured in a way that makes the panther appear to be the leopard’s shadow.
In an interview on social media, Mithun said: “I can still close my eyes and relive that moment every single day of my life. You don’t see that often. Probably an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There was certainly a lot of waiting and patience that went into it. I had waited 6 days for this in the same spot since I could hear the panther and Cleopatra mating about 100 meters away in the thick undergrowth, but could not see them due to limited visibility. They had made a large kill and would not move until it was over. That is where the knowledge and years of experience of following and tracking the panther came in handy. I just had to wait at one of his favorite paths, since that was the place he would get her, since that was the edge of his territory, and this he did after 6 days. It was a fruitful wait, though. I could wait for 6 years for a moment like this.”
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The Eternal Couple . Saaya and Cleopatra have been courting since 4 years now and whenever they are together it’s a sight to behold. The forest comes alive as they trot nonchalantly in his fabled kingdom. Usually in the courting pairs generally it is the Male who takes charge and moves around with the female following close behind. But with this couple it was definitely Cleo who was in charge while the Panther followed. . This was shot on a surreal winter morning when a single Deer alarm led me to this breathtaking sight. . #kabini #love #leopard #nikon #wild #Natgeo #mithunhphotography #instagood #instadaily #jungle #bigcat #forest #wildlifephotography #nature #wildlife #blackpanther #melanistic #therealblackpanther #thebisonresort
He explained that the element of surprise is what he loves most about wildlife photography: ‘’You never know what you are going to encounter at the next bend. The woods are mysterious, and to unlock that is my passion. You could be waiting for days and months and years for that perfect shot. But when it happens, those few seconds are magical, and to live for after all that time. That is the beauty of wildlife photography.’’
Mithun’s life changed in 2009, when he got his first camera and captured a huge, magnificent male tiger, swimming through a flowing river. ‘’That was the moment I decided my way forward in life,” he said and continued:
“Although I love every form of wildlife and love my birds as well, big cats were always a fascination from the beginning. Leopards, in particular, were my first love. The agility, the grace of this feline on the trees just fascinated me to no end. I would spend hours watching them lazing on a tree with their little ones. Have named and followed their individual journey in Kabini for the last 12 years now. It all started with one of my favorite Leopards whom I called ‘Monk’ (a big male) and ‘Moon’ (the female), and their generation still going strong now.”
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Vigil on the tree top . A nervous Cleopatra keeps a close eye on the undergrowth where the Tigress Kismet had made a Deer kill. . On hearing the commotion of the hunt curiosity got the better of Cleo who was sitting in the bush stalking the same herd of Deer earlier. Hence she went inside to investigate only to run into Kismet who came out chasing her at full tilt and missed her by a whisker. Cleo managed to latch on to this tall Vertical Teak tree where she was made to spend the rest of the day with the sun beating down. . #kabini #wildlife #leopard #nikon #wild #Natgeo #mithunhphotography #instagood #instadaily #love #jungle #bigcat #forest #wildlifephotography #nature #thebisonresort
Wildlife photography is certainly not for the faint of heart. Indeed, apart from having your camera at the ready, plenty of patience is a must and having knowledge of your subject and the terrain provides a great advantage. Mithun’s advice: “It definitely has some dangers associated for sure. But if you know your limits and study animal behavior, which is the most important facet, then you have won half the battle. These beautiful creatures are generally more scared and shy than we think. Give them space and let them get comfortable with you and you realize how close and personal you can get with their world. The secret is patience and respect.”
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Sparkle in the Eyes . The soft monsoon light falling on his stunning black coat revealing his rosettes and his mesmerising eyes was truly a divine sight. . #kabini #love #leopard #nikon #wild #Natgeo #mithunhphotography #instagood #instadaily #jungle #bigcat #forest #wildlifephotography #nature #wildlife #blackpanther #melanistic #therealblackpanther #thebisonresort
Through his work, the photographer also became a conservationist and his mission is to support and create awareness for the conservation of leopards in particular because, he says, ‘’They are the most neglected of the big cats across the world and in danger because of conflict with humans on the edges of the forests. People need to realize the beauty and grace of this amazing feline and their very important role in the ecosystem.”