Picture of a black panther resting on a branch, the distinct patterning of a leopard visible within the panther's black fur.

In this dense Indian forest, tigers and leopards are thriving

A conservation success story, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve is increasingly popular with tourists eager to see the big cats in the wild.

A black panther rests on a branch of a teak tree. Black panthers are leopards with a genetic mutation that causes the dark pigmentation of their coats. The rosette patterns are still visible against their fur.

Draped in mist, the lush, forested landscape of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in India’s southwestern Karnataka state looks enchanted.

An elephant lumbers through the foliage, feeding on shrubs and leaves, its gigantic ears flapping as if to the beat of a metronome. Up ahead along the dirt road, bison-like gaur graze in a meadow, not so much as glancing in our direction.

Guided by photographer Shaaz Jung, who has lived in a lodge in the forest for the past 12 years, we drive on, stopping by a herd of spotted deer. An iridescent blue kingfisher flits between the trees. As sunlight cuts through the haze, the tranquility is broken by the bark of a deer ringing out in the distance. It’s an alarm, warning that a predator lurks nearby.

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