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People Are Having A Very Tough Time Finding The Big Cat In This Photo

The Dodo logo The Dodo 5/8/2019 Stephen Messenger

Who would have guessed that one of the most striking animals on the planet would be so difficult to spot?

Recently, wildlife photographer Saurabh Desai posted a photo he'd snapped in the Spiti Valley of Northern India that's left internet users scratching their heads. At a glance, it appears to be a simple landscape shot of a snow-covered crag — but there's more to the image than first meets the eye.

Turns out, Desai was actually there photographing a snow leopard, an elusive big cat native to the region, whose perfectly camouflaged coat makes him blend into his landscape to an breathtaking degree.

Can you find him?

a rocky mountain with trees in the background © Saurabh Desai/Visual Poetries

If you tried and failed to find the snow leopard, you're not alone.

Even locals in this region, whose name for these cats is "Shan," have a very difficult time spotting them despite being in plain sight. 

"I wanted this animal to be captured the way people have described it," Desai told The Dodo. "They say that often they don’t see the ‘Shan’ but ‘Shan’ always sees them."

Here's a hint for those still stumped:

a close up of a rock © SAURABH DESAI/VISUAL POETRIES

Indeed, while you were busy searching, the snow leopard was staring back all along.

(In other words, he wins.)

a close up of a rock © SAURABH DESAI/VISUAL POETRIES

Not all of the snow leopards in Desai's photos are quite so tricky to spot, but their expertise at traversing rugged terrain does make encountering them at all a challenge.

But for Desai, it's more than worth it.

a close up of a rock © SAURABH DESAI/VISUAL POETRIES

"I spent almost three years in search of this amazing cat," he said. "When I found it up and close to me, I was speechless."

And thanks to Desai's tireless work documenting these gorgeous animals, the rest of the world can appreciate their beauty, too.

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