'That lonely feeling, when the forest goes eerily silent, but you know you’re not alone. That paranormal sensation where you can’t help but feel like you’re being watched. On most days, I look around and see nothing. But sometimes, when the wind dies and the leaves stop swaying, your eyes meet their eyes.' -Shaaz Jung
At The Wild Showcase, we celebrate everything wild. So naturally, we were drawn to wildlife photographer Shaaz Jung, who connects us visually to our eternal muse: the leopard. Through his camera lens and his jungle escapades we become voyeurs into the secret world of big cats. The talented young photographer needs no introduction amongst wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists, who revere him as ‘the leopard man of India’.
Shaaz is a big cat specialist, a wild-life photographer and a cinematographer. He has an innate love for connecting with nature, and a tenacious desire to explore; instilled in him in his childhood by his wildlife enthusiast parents. With his family, he runs a resort called The Bison, situated on the shores of the Kabini river in Karnataka (West of Mysore), as well as lodges in South India and East Africa.
The Bison is built on eco-tourism guidelines, and the rustic boutique camp is a haven for environmentally conscious jetsetters. The untamed natural beauty, thriving wildlife, and luxurious accommodations combine to create a transformative and restorative sanctuary.
It was an elusive black panther called Saya (which means shadow in Hindi), that was the source of Shaaz’s inspiration. He spent three years researching and filming her in the Kabini, capturing breathtaking images that set ablaze a massive response on social media. His Instagram account exploded with over one million followers, calling to people not only from wildlife circles but anyone who finds themselves awestruck by the haunting beauty and ferocity of the big cats.
Saya’s pictures triggered a nostalgic pulse, transporting us back in time to our childhood memories of another black panther: Bhageera in Rudyard Kipling’s ’The Jungle Book.’
Through Shaaz’s exquisite wildlife photography, we are privy to glimpses of big cats in their natural habitats, but even more powerful than that, by showcasing these creatures in their full glory, Shaaz leads us to bear witness to their silent cry, guiding us to question our own human experiences of diversity, inclusivity and co-existence with nature and the animal kingdom, fueling our desire to explore it, respect it, unite with it and ultimately, to preserve it.
Contributed by Shehreen Najam. With a back-ground in law and human rights, Shehreen is a London-based international development professional, who formerly served at the World Bank as a knowledge sharing expert for conservation of tigers & biodiversity (The Global Tiger Initiative). She is also a proud mom of a girl, yogi & musician.
Photo Credits: Shaaz Jung