By Alexander Greensmith
A PHOTOGRAPHER spent six days capturing rare pictures of a twelve-year-old leopard and an eight-year-old black panther who have been in a relationship for FOUR-YEARS.
Gorgeous pictures showed Saaya, the 120-pound male panther, standing in the shadow of his 89-pound female partner, Cleopatra, who happens to be a leopard.
Another image captured the loved-up couple, who have been together for four-years, relaxing in a tree.
The rare shots of the odd pairing were captured by professional photographer, Mithun Hunugund (32), from Bengaluru, India. Toyboy Saaya is eight-years-old and in his prime, while spotty mum Cleopatra is 12-years-old. The panther-leopard parents have an eight-month-old cub together. Mithun used a Nikon D5 with a 600mm lens to capture the multi-coloured cat couple. He took the shots in Kabini, Karnataka, India.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; I can close my eyes and relive the moment meeting them over and over again. I waited six days for these photos,” said Mithun.
“I positioned myself near a water source that was in their hunting ground. I was about two-hundred-feet away.
“They light up the forest. To be able to see that was absolutely mind-blowing.”
Black panthers are melanistic. This colour variant is caused by a recessive allele which means that due to this, a child does not share the father’s coloration. Around 11-percent of leopards have the unique pigmentation.