An Account of Black Panther Sighting at Kabini
I think the picture is a summary of a timeless moment from the wild. The more you resign to the forest, you are embraced deeper as it opens up its secret to you. I am blessed to witness that, I am privileged to experience a transition where the shadow became the being.
Here is a story of ‘My Bagheera’. Eternity lasted a little over 5 seconds, but has gifted me a lifetime’s story to tell.
It was in Zone A and we have spent most of our morning drive without much of a sighting. By now, I have had the experience to vouch for the fact that it is not over, till it is. During the latter half of the safari, we got an information that a Black Panther has been sighted at Kaimara junction and we were still hovering around the KV tank area at that time.
Every ride into the forest is like a fresh life-cycle, with hope, expectations, ecstasy and despair playing its part. As we reached the spot we saw one vehicle parked-trying to eye the Black Panther that has already got down from the tree.
Heartbreak!!! My mind was convincing me with the thought, that it has happened scores of time for me not to feel the pinch. However-a mere mortal with infinite dreams will feel the burden of the missed opportunity.
We waited there patiently for the next twenty minutes and kept our eyes glued to a small opening where we expected the Black Panther to cross.
What followed next was few moment of calmness as a conversation between ‘brain fever’ (Common Hawk Cuckoo) and ‘one more bottle’ (Indian Cuckoo) floated from the unseen branches of the dry forest played along. The air was dry with the April sun shining with all its might.
The wait was getting difficult by every passing minute with the hope evaporating into the thin summer air.
After almost 20 minutes it happened. Suddenly, a shadow flickered far off-It was coming out. I saw it-yes I did. I was the first person in the vehicle to grab a sight and I was mumbling before I gurgled out-“It’s coming. It’s coming…
A sudden burst of shutters from the shaky hand managed one decent shop before it galloped over the dry leaves to oblivion.
Heavy breaths, and ecstasy compressed in silence lingered over. As I write, I can still feel the heartbeat, the liveliness of the moment that is infinite.
I don’t know, if I would ever encounter another Black Panther in the wild but what I know is we breathed the same air, got burnt by the sun, lived the same day together-no matter how short it was-for me it was a lifetime.