The photographs were captured by 43-year-old Jyothish Kuriako in Kava, near Malampuzha dam, located in Palakkad district of Kerala.

Black panther spotted in Palakkad, KeralaAll pics: Jyothish Kuriako
news Wildlife Tuesday, June 07, 2022 - 16:06

For years, Jyothish Kuriako has been traversing the borders of the forests in Kava of Palakkad district of Kerala, clicking pictures of wild animals that he’d spot there. But on May 28, Jyothish was stunned. For, standing metres away from him, was a black panther. “Last week, I went after my duty and as usual, waited outside the forest. Suddenly I spotted the black panther. Though I have seen black panthers previously, this is the first time that I was able to click a proper picture,” he said.

The 43-year-old works in a government office in Palakkad, but taking wildlife photographs without entering into the wilderness is his speciality. “I have loved forests and wilderness since I was a child,” Jyothish tells TNM. “So I wander at the borders, without stepping into the forest. There’s a rocky terrain at the border of the forest and from a road located some distance away, one can spot many wild animals. Early in the morning and in the evening, these animals come down to sit there and that is when I capture photographs. I wait in some private land below or on the road, so most of my pictures will be long-shots. I think there could more black panthers in the forest but this is the first time that I have managed to get a photograph. I think it is a female,” he adds. 

An older picture clicked by Jyothish Kuriako

Not only black panthers, Jyothish has also taken pictures of leopards and spotted deer. The leopards bask in the sunlight, metres away from the Malampuzha dam and Kava - which is a small settlement area. “The animals roam in the area. For those people, it is not a big deal,” says Jyothish. Jyothish trudges to the forests every morning to catch a glimpse of the wild animals that wander around the edges of the forest. “I start early from my house, which is around 20 kilometres away from Kava. I wait for a couple hours to spot some animals in the forest, before leaving for work. I come back here around 5 pm and wait till it falls dark”, he talks about his process.

An older picture clicked by Jyothish Kuriako

An older picture clicked by Jyothish Kuriako

Black panthers, though rarely spotted, are not uncommon in India. Black panthers can be found in Karnataka’s Kabini and Dandeli reserve, and more recently, a black panther was spotted in Goa as well. “Black panther fall under the category of leopards, but they have a genetic variation and so their skin appears to be black. When we go closer, the fur will dark brown, but they will appear black from a distance,” he explains, adding that he has seen black panthers on five occasions, of which three were at Kava.

To see more photographs captured by Jyotish, swipe: 

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