By Sophie Norris
This is the moment two bear cubs played hide and seek – with one hiding up a tree while the other appeared to ‘count’.
Archna Singh, 44, was tracking a group of tigers Ranthambhore National Park, India, hoping to photograph them when she came across the two young Sloth bears playing openly in the trees.
Despite their playground being home to a tigress, Archna snapped the carefree cubs popping their heads around the tree trunk for 10 minutes – an unusually long sighting for the often shy species.
The images show a bear peering around a tree as if he is counting in the childhood game of hide and seek, while another makes its hiding place in a tree.
Archna, from Delhi, India, said: “I thanked my lucky stars that I was able to capture this – I was ecstatic.
“The photos were really appreciated by everyone because witnessing Sloth Bears is rare and them being so boldly out in the open was icing on the cake. Everyone loved them.
“It was a delight to see them out and about playing boldly, with no inhibitions whatsoever.
“It was about 4pm and Sloth bears are usually nocturnal, so it is very rare to see them like this.
“It was behaving just like a child inviting us to play hide and seek.
“After playing like that for a bit he goes around the area a bit before engaging in a playful scuffle with his sibling.
“The area belonged to a Tigress and since she was not around that day, the bears were making hay while the sun shined.”
The Sloth bear, which gets its name due to its long claws and sloth-like appearance, would usually flee at the sight of humans, however this daring duo were putting on a show, inquisitively ogling the jeeps parked in the distance.
Archna has pictured thousands of animals across four continents, including buffalo, elephants, ostriches and monkeys, but she emphasised how unusual it was to spot the mammals in daylight.
Archna said: “I had come to track a tiger and her cubs but found bears instead, which are even rarer to find than tigers so I was overjoyed at getting something new and unique.”