Located around 245 km from Bangalore, Kabini is primarily known for its handful of luxury resorts around the Kabini River and Nagarhole National Park in the vicinity. Once a private hunting area for the British, Kabini is a wildlife destination that is the largest place for Asiatic Elephants in the world. The Kabini Forest Reserve (which comprises the south-eastern part of Nagarhole National Park) is famous for its amazing wildlife and birdlife. Kabini is also home to the world's most famous living black panther "Saya". Even though it is not impossible to spot him, it is very rare.

Kabini Forest in Karnataka is spread over 55 acres, and is a vital part of the Nagarhole National Park or Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Reserve. Once upon a time, the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary used to be the hunting grounds for the kings of Mysore, but at present it is open for tourism. The place is known for its serene lakes, valleys and streams.

The Kabini Forest Reserve is quite popular among most wildlife enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Given its accessibility, lush landscape, lakes, and sightings of elephants and tigers, it is visited by a number of tourists every year.

While the forests of India have been home to some charismatic tigers and tigresses, Kabini has produced some amazing leopards over the last decade. Black panthers have been sighted in Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve, Tadoba National Park and Mudumalai National Park among a few other places, and perhaps, more individuals are roaming India’s wild kingdoms. Nonetheless, no melanistic cat has charmed wildlife enthusiasts as much as the black panther in Kabini. Unlike other black big cats that only give visitors a brief glimpse before darting into the shrubs and vanishing, the black panther in Kabini has gotten accustomed to the rumbling gypsies and has given some visitors absolutely memorable sightings. Over the years, some lucky visitors have spotted it walking bang in the middle of the road! Also referred to as ‘BP’ and ‘Blackie’ by frequent visitors, the ghost lurking in Kabini’s shadows is always under their spotlight. Spotting a black panther is an unforgettable experience. Why not try your luck soon? Are you ready to be bewitched with a special spell of black magic?

 

Is Black Panther a different species? 

But what’s a Black Panther, Really? Many of us have the mistaken belief that black panthers are a separate species. This is not true, it’s not a separate species, but rather a Common Leopard with a gene that produces dark pigment.

Melanistic leopards are commonly called Black Panthers, they are also known as Black Leopard and this term also applies to melanistic Jaguars. Black Panthers are usually found in dense tropical rain forests, where the penetration of sunlight is low. Their dark coloration acts as better camouflage in the low sunlight conditions of the forest floor. These cats normally hunt on chital, black-naped hare, langurs, and mouse deer. 

Close examination of the color of the Black Panthers will show that the typical markings known as rosettes or spots are still present, but are hidden by the excess black pigment, giving an effect similar to that of printed silk. The color variant in black panthers occur mainly due to recessive allele, this means heritable characteristics are controlled by genes which are expressed in offspring only when inherited from both parents. 

Black Panthers prefer the dense tropical rain forest where the sunlight is low. Therefore Kabini, Nagarahole tourism zone is exceptional, as not many areas are as dense as typically preferred by these cats. 

 

Encounter between a black panther and a leopard

World over, wildlife lovers predominantly celebrate charismatic large cat species such as tigers and lions. In Nagarhole National Park located in India’s southern state of Karnataka, tigers over the years have roared loud and far and have captivated the interest of many people. But in recent years, a different large cat species – the black panther in Kabini has become a ‘junglewood’ legend.

A close encounter between a black panther and a leopard was recorded on camera at the Kabini wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, shared the video on Twitter two days ago, where it has since gone viral. The video shows the leopard and the black panther sitting on the higher branches of a tree. Since being posted on Twitter, the video has racked up nearly 1 lakh views and hundreds of reactions. 

According to wildlife photographer Shaaz Jung, who specializes in tracking and studying leopards, Scarface is a leopard in Kabini who gets his name from an enormous gash across his face. Saya, meanwhile, is the lone black panther at the wildlife sanctuary.

 

Saaya – The elusive black panther in Kabini

Fondly known as ‘Saaya’ which translates to ‘shadow’ in Hindi, the black panther in Kabini lures many tourists and wildlife enthusiasts alike to tour the dry deciduous forest. Most people privileged to have spotted Saaya have been left spellbound. 

Everything has not been all moonlight and rainbows for the black panther in Kabini. Over the years, Saaya, younger and less experienced than other male leopards in the region, has had to fight often to fend for his territory. His most significant adversary is the famous Scarface – a prominent alpha male.

Unlike other common leopards whose rosettes help camouflage them from their prey, Saaya’s shiny black coat blew his cover very easily. Langurs would immediately sound the alarm at the first signs of movement. Hunting was tough. 

During the summer months, the black panther’s coat was again a liability, standing out against the brown undergrowth. Having to constantly stay vigilant, keep rival males at bay, and hunt – simply survival perhaps was a problem. 

As the black panther grew older, he grew stronger. He also learned to adapt to the circumstances better and hunted more successfully. In a subsequent brutal battle with one of the fiercest males, the black panther emerged victorious, earning his right to a mate. His mate was arguably the prettiest leopardess in the area – locally called Cleopatra.


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Kabini Wildlife Photography Tour - 2 days

from INR 35000

Kabini, on the banks of the Kabini River, is a popular weekend resort for residents of Bangalore, Mysore, and other South Indian cities. Kabini is an easy weekend destination located approximately 220 km from Bangalore and 60 km from Mysore. Explore the gorgeous woods and wildlife experience or simply relax in one of Kabini's resorts while sauntering through the jungles and hike paths. For decades, the world-famous Kabini River Lodge, located on the banks of the Kabini River, has been a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. The entire region is sometimes referred to as Kabini because it is part of the Nagarhole National Park (one of India's best tiger reserves) and the Niligiris biospehere reserve.

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Kabini River Lodge

from INR 9675

Named after the River Kabini, the River Kabini Lodge beckons with the promise of elephants, gaur, deer and a rumour of tiger. Located on the southern fringes of the Nagarahole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) , this former hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore was rated as One of the Top 5 Wildlife Resorts in the World by the British Tatler’s Travel Guide. A sprawling colonial estate in the heart of elephant country, the River Kabini Lodge echoes with the call of the wild.

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Jungle Tales – 3 Day Wildlife Photography Tour of Kabini & Nagarhole Tiger Reserve

from INR 40000

Kabini, part of the Nagarhole national park ecosystem, encompasses Nilgiri biosphere reserve and flora fauna of the Kabini river. This natural ecosystem of Kabini gives nature lovers, photography enthusiasts & wildlife explorers to interact with the nature in its purest form. Sights of Elephant, Gaurs, Chital, Sambar Deer and 250+ different species of birds is very common and if one is little lucky, one can get to see Leopards, Cheetahs & Tigers as well during the Jungle safari experience. And this is what our Wildlife photography tour will provide – a chance to capture Kabini, its wildlife and ecological system in its full-glory through your lens.

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1 Day Photography Workshop

from INR 3000

Trippyigloo.com presents 10th edition - masterclass in photography & photo-editing. This workshop will include classroom training and practicals. By the end of this workshop you would have learnt more about your DSLR, more than basics of photography and some expert advice on photography as a career and which photography field to choose.

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