Bhubaneswar: During the ongoing tiger census in Odisha, a black leopard was spotted in a forest on Thursday, as disclosed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Susanta Nanda. The PCCF, however, did not disclose the specific forest where the melanistic leopard was sighted.
Camera traps set up for the tiger census program captured images of the black leopard, with the census activities continuing until January 15 next year. According to the PCCF, the occurrence of black leopards in Odisha is not unusual, with records dating back 50 years. Historical records also mention sightings of black tigers in Ganjam district during the British rule.
The PCCF clarified that the black colouring in leopards is due to excess pigmentation, and it’s not the first case in the state. While acknowledging the challenges faced by black leopards, such as difficulty in roaming under the sun and the potential attraction of mosquitoes, the PCCF emphasized that there is no guarantee that the offspring of a black leopard will also have a black hide.
This sighting follows the 2018 observation of a black panther in the Garjanpahad reserve forest in Odisha’s Sundargarh district. Additionally, the Similipal tiger reserve in Odisha is renowned for its population of melanistic or black tigers, with the first sighting dating back to 1993.