Rare pink leopard sighted in Ranakpur hills of Rajasthan
Udaipur based wildlife conservationist and member Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Anil Rodgers said this is India’s first strawberry leopard
A rare pink female leopard has been sighted in the Ranakpur region in the Pali district of Rajasthan. Earlier sighting of the pink leopard was reported from South Africa. Experts believe that the different colour is perhaps due to mutation.
The Indian leopard usually has its coat spotted on a pale yellow to yellowish-brown or golden background. But this pink leopard has reddish-brown skin and distinctly different spots. Such strawberry-coated leopards have been seen in South Africa more than once.
Deputy conservator of forest, Fateh Singh said the pink coloured leopard was being sighted occasionally by locals in the Ranakpur region and in Kumbhalgarh area of Rajsamand district. “The colour seems to because of skin mutation,” he said. However, it was not clear if the same leopard had been sighted at both the places.
Retired Indian Forest Officer (IFS) Sunayan Sharma said this strawberry coated leopard was a mature female with a cub and was an example of a rare mutation with pink colour. Usually, mutation occurs in black and white colours. “I haven’t come across a pink leopard,” he said.
Wildlife Institute of India scientist Dr YV Jhala said, “The leopard seems to have a light coat colour and a natural variation but not an albino.” Albinism is a congenital absence of any pigmentation or colouration in an animal, plant or person.
Udaipur based wildlife conservationist and member Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Anil Rodgers said this is India’s first strawberry (leucistic) leopard.
He said a black panther, which is a melanistic (an increase of dark pigment in the plumage) variant of leopard can be sighted, but pink colour is rare. Kumbhalgarh is a proposed tiger reserve and this leopard can add to tourism attractions.
Expressing concern over her safety, Rodgers said she was not only vulnerable to poachers but also to unethical wildlife photographers who will disturb the habitat. The leopard was presently moving in an unprotected area and the forest department needs to increase its monitoring, he added.