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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “Nature’s Witness” in the subject line.
More from National Wildlife magazine and NWF:
Connect children to a lifelong affinity for nature, wildlife, and the outdoors with these 10 ideas.Read More
The new Garden for Wildlife™ photo contest yields backyard gems.Read More
The National Wildlife Federation is partnering with colleges and universities to address one of the biggest threats to wildlife.Read More
Place your order today for the themed box that delivers everything you need to create family memories while discovering nature and wildlife.Learn More
You don't have to travel far to join us for an event. Attend an upcoming event with one of our regional centers or affiliates.