SAYA, The Elusive Black Panther of Kabini

By Micato Staff October 26, 2020
Saya the black panther
Saya in Nagarhole National Park. Courtesy: Praveen Siddannavar

Recently, Indian media channels were ablaze with one image – a breath-taking shot of SAYA, the elusive black panther, yawning as he lay on a tree branch. This was followed by another unmatched image of Saya with his mate Cleopatra trotting nonchalantly through the deciduous forests of Kabini at Nagarhole, one of India’s stellar National Parks.

Many acclaimed photographers trailed Saya as soon as word of the sighting spread. In 2020 the melanistic panther awarded them with unparalleled sightings. The National Geographic documentary, The Real Black Panther tells of the discovery of Saya. These sightings are unique because until now, panthers have only been studied with the help of footage from trap cameras. In his initial days at the forest, Saya rivalled other alpha male leopards to gain his territory.

saya the black panther
Saya in Nagarhole National Park. Courtesy: Praveen Siddannavar

In addition to Saya and Cleopatra, there’s more to delight you at Nagarhole National Park. The forest is also home to the charismatic Royal Bengal Tiger. In the year 1999, the Nagarhole National Park became part of ‘Project Tiger’, a successful wildlife conservation initiative for the endangered species.

What else makes Nagarhole National Park unique?

The Lingayat Kings and their supporting feudal lords ruled Nagarhole until the defeat of Tipu Sultan and a hegemony was established with the British Raj in the 1850s. While the Lingayats were namesake kings, the forests were considered common property. The colonial administration established the Forest Department in 1860 and Nargahole became a National Park in 1974.

The Nagarhole ecosystem supports the highest concentration of herbivorous species anywhere in Asia, comprising of Barking Deer (Muntjac), Chital, Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Gaur, Wild pig, Asian Elephant, Common Langur and the Bonnet Macaque. In terms of biomass, this ecosystem is comparable to the Masai Mara in Africa. These herbivores coexist with predators such as Tiger, Leopard and Wild Dog, with assistance from many ecological factors.

While this is just a glimpse of the beauty that is Kabini and Nagarhole National Park, there is much more the region offers. These animals are truly an inspiration for life lessons, teaching us to live each day as it comes, while also planning for the future!

Micato Recommends:

A visit to Nagarhole National Park should be on every traveller’s bucket list. A stay at the ultra-luxurious Pool Reserve at Evolve Back is a wonderful way to cap off a tour of India.

Evolve Back, Kabini
Pool Reserve Hut at Evolve Back. Courtesy: Evolve Back, Kabini

In addition to Jungle Safaris, guests of the resort can enjoy exclusive experiences, such as the night trails, bird watching sessions, coracle rides, visits to local villages, authentic tribal festivities, and a variety of dining experiences.

The Kabini river
Sunset on the banks of Kabini River. Courtesy: Evolve Back, Kabini

To include a visit to Kabini and Nagarhole National Park in your custom India journey, and possibly catch a glimpse of Saya and Cleopatra for yourself, view our brochure online or speak to one of Micato’s A-List travel planners.

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