Stunning and Extremely Rare Black Leopard Spotted by Tourist on His First Safari Trip in India
An extremely rare black leopard was spotted by a tourist on his first-ever safari trip in India.
Abhishek Pangis, a 23-year-old engineering student from Pune in India's western Maharashtra state, captured stunning photographs of the animal, according to LadBible.
Pangis was on a two-day safari trip with his parents at the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve —Maharashtra's oldest and largest national park — when they stumbled upon the animal on the second day of their trip.
Noting that he "went blank" when he first saw the majestic animal, Pangis then realized that he was the only person on the trip with a camera and began taking photos.
"I went blank when I spotted it," he told the outlet. "I hadn't seen anything so beautiful. I was completely stunned and came back to my senses after 10 minutes and started clicking pictures."
Sharing that he stayed in close proximity to the animal for 40 minutes, Pangis deemed the encounter a "brilliant experience."
"Usually people have seen it around for two or three minutes but I was very lucky as I could see it for 40 minutes," he said. "I witnessed it drinking water from a pond, marking its territory and stalking langurs and monkeys."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories
Pangis spotted the leopard in June when temperatures were close to 113 degrees. He added, "There is more chance of the wild cats coming out for water."
"There were 10-15 safari jeeps but they left when they did not see the leopard and just three or four safari jeeps stayed with us," he said. "None of them had a camera so when it came out in the open, it was just me who had the camera and could take its pictures."
RELATED VIDEO: Baby Snow Leopards Enjoy Bath Time!
The animal gets its rare coloring from a mutation that causes melanism — an excessive development of dark-colored pigment in the skin.
Pangis considers himself lucky to have spotted the black leopard and recognizes that everyone is not as lucky as him, including professional photographers who spend time and money with hopes of catching a glimpse of the animal.
"I knew there are black leopards but I was very lucky to have spotted it during my first safari trip," he said. "Professional wildlife photographers spend millions and several months to catch a glimpse of such rare animals."