An extremely rare black tiger was caught on camera by a lucky amateur photographer who spotted one of the six known tigers in the world.
Soumen Bajpayee took the pictures of the melanistic tiger, also known as the black tiger, because of its thick black stripes that hide their orange fur in the east of Odisha, India.
The critically endangered species is found only in the jungles of the Indian state and only six species are known worldwide.
The tigers, which are smaller than their regular counterparts, have rarely been seen in recent years.
The 27-year-old Masters in Technology student from Calcutta was visiting the sanctuary when he spotted the tiger while watching birds and monkeys.
He said, “I was surprised and was lucky enough to see the tiger.
“I was watching various birds and monkeys in the trees when I suddenly saw what looked like a tiger, but not an ordinary tiger.
“At the time I had no idea about melanistic tigers.
“Then it suddenly emerged from the forest, stayed a few seconds and went back behind the curl.”
Soumen, who had just started taking pictures, was so shocked by the unique manner that he said he failed to see the meaning of what he was seeing
“At first I didn’t even realize what happened when I saw a completely different tiger.
“I had seen many tigers in the wild and in captivity, but it was very different.
“Nandankan is the first sanctuary to see melanistic tigers, but there is no guarantee that you can see it as they roam around in natural surroundings in Nadankanan and the number is only one or two.
“I was very grateful to see it for myself, even though it took a few seconds.”
Nandan said the tigers have so far been captured by camera traps, but he was lucky enough to see them hiking.