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Black panther spotted in Odisha’s reserve forest

Odisha’s chief wildlife warden said the sighting of the big cat makes the state possibly the only in India to have both black tiger as well as black panther.

india Updated: May 21, 2018 21:11 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar 
Black panther,Odisha forest,Garjanpahad reserve forest
A black panther roaming in the Garjanpahad reserve forest in Odisha.(Odisha wildlife department)

Odisha forest department officials on Monday confirmed the presence of a black panther in the state’s Garjanpahad reserve forest in Sundargarh district after camera traps caught its movement.

The state wildlife department often gets reports of black panthers being spotted, particularly in Kalikamba Reserve Forests of Bhanjanagar and Nawarangpur forest division, but this is the first instance of camera traps capturing the movement of one.

“We already have confirmed presence of a black tiger and the black panther sighting makes the state possibly the only in India to have both,” said Odisha chief wildlife warden Sandeep Tripathy.

The panther was caught on multiple camera traps in the reserve forest of Hemgir Range in western Odisha’s Sundargarh district recently. “The cameras also caught the black panther’s mother. The mother is a normal leopard and her son is melanistic,” said Tripathy.

Melanism is the undue development of dark-coloured pigment in the skin which gives black skin in many animals, birds and even fish.

The black panther with its mother in Garjanpahad Reserve Forest in Odisha. (Odisha wildlife department)

“The camera traps (in Garjanpahad Reserve Forest) were deployed in December 2015. Lately, the cameras repeatedly captured footage of the black panther,” said Tripathy. Officials are yet to share information of the black panther’s age.

Odisha reported 318 leopards in its forests in its last wildlife census carried out in 2016. The census accounted for 40 tigers. Camera traps first spotted a melanistic (black) tiger in Similipal Tiger Reserve in 2007.

Melanistic leopards are found in Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

A black panther was spotted at Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve in Chhattisgarh last month.

Black panther has been a part of pop culture for years. The success of the Hollywood superhero film Black Panther this year has added to the rage.

The black panther has also caught the imagination of people worldwide for years through the character of Bagheera, the friend-protector-mentor of Mowgli in writer Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

First Published: May 21, 2018 21:07 IST