It was in October end in Kabini.
The morning sighting had been beautiful – we had a 20 minute plus sighting of the Tiger Tank female with three cubs.
On a supremely optimistic note, we set out on the evening safari saying we would find the Black Panther.
15 minutes into the safari, kid sister spotted it.
It was so black, even our guide missed it.
I frantically signalled the guide who in turn frantically signalled the driver to stop the jeep.
The rest was mayhem.
Firstly, I had a very, very heavy lens set – that meant it was impossible to shoot handheld.
Secondly Sir Black was very black, very frisky and the light was behind him.
Thirdly the light was fading fast.
All of which meant out of focus images.
On top of that, Sir Black was up there on the tree while I was in a jeep with nothing but a sandbag for support.
I had to squeeze down between the jeep seats on all fours, cramped, twisted body, severely twisted neck to balance the lens against the jeep door rim and get a usable angle.
Sir Black, it turned out, was in the middle of a mating ceremony, as we discovered his lady love perched on a separate branch.
The first few shots produced nothing but a black blur.
I had to switch to Live View on the camera, zoom in and then achieve focus.
In the heat of the moment, it was all was a blur.
Black Panthers are rarely spotted.
We managed to watch Sir Black wooing his lady love.
This image was him on his way down the tree after which Sir Black and lady love indulged in some hectic love behind the bushes,
No, we did not witness all that.
Just heard the occasional grunts of happiness he made.
So now begins the wait to get back home and process the images.
In the meantime, here’s one for the road.
That moment when his eyes locked on to mine.
Canon 7D. Canon 400mm 2.8 IS II. Handheld. Sandbag Support.