Odisha reports its first black panther in Sundargarh forest

Bhubaneswar: Good news for the wildlife lovers as Odisha added a record to its research by capturing the first photograph of a black panther of big cat species in the forest of Sundergarh district.

The footage of the black panther or melanistic leopard was captured repeatedly by the camera installed in Garjanpahad Reserve Forest of Hemagiri range of Sundergarh forest division, informed Odisha Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) Sandeep Tripathi here today.

The black panther, which looks completely dark, was caught on camera while roaming in forest.

The camera traps were deployed under the guidance of Sundergarh DFO Arjun Kumar Mishra by PCCF (wildlife) and CWLW researchers Bhakta Rath and Nimain Palei since December 2015.

It is the first ever footage of black panther in the forests of Odisha, a press release said.

“It is as shy as normal leopard and very difficult to detect. It is mostly found in dense forests of southern India,” the release said.

The melanistic leopards are also found in eight other states — Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Odisha is the ninth state where black panther has been reported in Sundergarh forest division.

Notably, Odisha is the only state to have Melanistic tigers (with thick and darker stripes), which are rarely found in the world, both in the wild and in the zoo. The Melanistic tiger was first reported in Similipal in the year 1993. The first photographic evidence about presence of the Melanistic tiger was captured in 2007.

There are 15 normal tigers, seven white tigers and three melanistic tigers at Nandankanan Zoological Park situated on outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

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