An amateur photographer was lucky enough to capture a series of stunning snaps of an extremely rare 'black' tiger.
Soumen Bajpayee took the pictures after he stumbled upon a melanistic tiger, also known as black tigers because of their thick black stripes that hide their orange fur, during a trip to eastern Odisha, India.
Only a handful of black tigers are thought to exist. In fact, the one Soumen encountered is thought to be one of only six of its kind that are known to exist in the world.
On the verge of extinction, the species is only found in the jungles of the Indian state.
Soumen is a 27-year-old student studying a Masters in Technology from Kolkata in West Bengal. He was on a visit to the sanctuary when he saw the tiger, having been watching birds and monkeys.
He said: "I was surprised and felt fortunate to have seen the tiger.
"I was watching various birds and monkeys in the trees when I suddenly saw something which looked like a tiger but not like a usual tiger. Back then I didn't have any idea about Melanistic Tigers.
"Then suddenly it appeared from the woods, stayed for few seconds and walked back behind the trees."
Soumen did not realise what he saw at first and was very surprised to discover he had actually encountered a very unique a rare species of tiger.
He continued: "Initially I didn't even recognise what happened as I saw a completely different tiger.
"I had seen many tigers before both in the wild and in captivity but this was completely a different one.
"Nandankan is the first sanctuary to show [a] melanistic tiger, but there is no guarantee you can see it because in Nadankanan they roam in [the] natural environment and the number is just one or two.
"I was extremely grateful to see it myself even though it was for few seconds."
Soumen said the tigers have previously been captured using camera traps, but he was lucky to spot one in the way he did.
He added: "With camera traps it is found that only six or seven Melanistic Tigers can be there that too in the state of Odisha only, in Simlipal Reserve and Nandankanan Sanctuary.
We hope that these tigers mate with other tigers so that we have chance to get more Melanistic cubs."
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