A wildlife photographer has captured remarkable images of a female leopard shadowed by her black panther partner in India.
The rare shot showed Saaya, the 120 lbs male panther, standing in the shadow of his 89 lbs female leopard mate, Cleopatra.
Saaya is eight years old, while spotty Cleopatra is 12 years old. The panther-leopard parents have been a couple for four years and have an eight-month-old cub together.
‘This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; I can close my eyes and relive the moment meeting them over and over again,’ said the photographer Mithun Hunugund, 32, from India. ‘I waited six days for these photos,’
‘I positioned myself near a water source that was in their hunting ground. I was about two-hundred-feet away,’ he added. ‘They light up the forest. To be able to see that was absolutely mind-blowing.’
Black panthers are melanistic. Their 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 per cent of leopards have the unique pigmentation, making them a rare sight.