A photographer enjoys a rare sighting of a black panther in the wild
SIGHTING A RARE BLACK PANTHER in the wilds of Ecuador gave veteran conservation photographer Pete Oxford the thrill of his long career. “I had found the Holy Grail,” he says of this chance encounter—yielding what are likely the first images of a black panther (or melanistic jaguar) made in the wild without camera traps, baiting or weeks-long waits in blinds.
Oxford was exploring eastern Ecuador’s Tiputini River when he and a local friend rounded a bend and glimpsed the cat. It vanished in 30 seconds. After intently scanning the shore, they spotted it again—and that’s when the magic happened. “It walked straight toward us and began grooming!” says Oxford, who had a luxurious 80 minutes to observe the panther from less than 30 feet away. After a final languid yawn (above), the cat ambled off, leaving Oxford an indelible memory. “It was magnificent, evocative, velvety and majestic,” he says—“an iconic moment” in the wild that likely will never come again.
To submit images for consideration, write to email@example.com with “Nature’s Witness” in the subject line.
More from National Wildlife magazine and NWF:
Parker is a shining role model for all she has accomplished and her ongoing positivity, energy, and belief in changing the world for the better.Read the Story
Hear from champions for greater and safer access to the outdoors as they discuss the potential solutions to address the intersectional issues faced by Black communities.Listen Now
By taking the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, your local leaders can commit to uniting your community around saving the imperiled monarch. Send a message today urging your mayor or head of local or Tribal government to pledge before April 30!Act Now
Get quotes now or call (855) 786-0941Get Quotes Now
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.