When Saaya met Cleopatra: A love story in Kabini

When Saaya met Cleopatra: A love story in Kabini

Black panther Saaya and leopard Cleopatra. Credit: Instagram Photo/@mithunhphotography

Two wildlife photographers have been offered a rare glimpse into the courtship of a melanin leopard and normal leopard in the jungles of Kabini, with the documentary on the big cats' love story going viral — a rich reward for their obsessive quest.

Mithun H and Shaaz Jung have been tracking the 'Eternal Couple' of Kabini forest, Saaya and Cleopatra for several years now. 

While Mithun has extensively documented Saaya and his partner, Cleopatra, Shaaz Jung has documented Saaya for a NatGeo film in the wilderness of Kabini.

Sharing their experience of documenting the most 'elusive cats', Mithun said, "While Cleopatra has been around since 2009, Saaya appeared only in 2014. But both have been courting each other for around four years." 

Shaaz Jung revealed that it was the sheer beauty of Saaya which made him focus more on the black panther. "Here was a melanistic leopard adapting to conditions of dry deciduous forest landscape using natural shades completely different from their original habitat of the evergreen forest landscape. At times, I could not sight Saaya for 81 days at a stretch. But I have spent 10 hours every day for three years for filming the cats," Jung revealed.

According to the photographers, Saaya came into Kabini as a young sub-adult male establishing his own territory. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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

A post shared by Mithun H (@mithunhphotography) on

Commenting on his admired picture 'Eternal Couple', Mithun said, "The shot was clicked at around 9.00 am when both of them were feasting on a kill. I had to wait for six days for a perfect shot as Saaya had made a kill about 100 metres inside a bushy area."