Arvind Krish Bala and his friend, Natarajan, an Irula tribesman, were perched on a treetop at a waterhole in the Parambikulam reserve forest in Kerala. They were waiting to sight a tiger. This was when Natarajan told him the story of his first encounter with a black panther in the Anamalais, 'elephant hills', in the Western Ghats running through Kerala and Tamilnadu. Natarajan had been roaming the Anamalais for more than forty years and he knew every bird there, and everything about it. But the one he had never seen in all those years was the black panther. "It was my son who first sighted the magnificent black beast," said Natarajan proudly.