On Monday, according to various reports, a black panther was spotted strolling in Karnataka’s Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve. Deputy Conservator of Forests D Mahesh Kumar shared two pictures of the big cat and confirmed the news to IANS: 

An FRO [forest range officer] in NTR has sighted a black panther on Monday. 

The news broke out after two majestic pictures of the big cat went viral on social media with over two lakh likes and 54,000 retweets. 

In one of the photographs, the panther is seen fiercely looking into the camera lens and the second one captured the panther on a large, moss-laden tree branch. 

News Minute

Well-known wildlife photographer, Shaaz Jung has taken credit for the viral pictures that have taken the internet by surprise. 

Honestly, one look at these mesmerising pictures, and I was instantly reminded of the tales of Mowgli along with his wise black panther pal Bagheera. 

According to reports, Deputy Conservator of Forests, D Mahesh Kumar could not confirm if the black panther in the viral pictures was the same one that was spotted in NTR on Monday. 

I am not sure of the photographs of the black panther in the viral social media posts and the one spotted on Monday are one and the same. 

Furthermore, Mahesh Kumar couldn’t confirm if Shaaz Jung was the one who took the photographs that were widely being circulated but did mention that the photographer was a regular visitor at the tiger reserve.

Netizens were pleasantly surprised to witness their childhood imagination of Bagheera coming alive through these viral pictures: 

Kumar further mentioned that black panthers are just leopards with excessive melanin on their coats. According to him, there are about six black panthers in the forests of Karnataka and one in Nagarhole and they’re rare to spot but not impossible. 

Picture and Feature Image Credit: Shaaz Jung