Odisha forest department officials on Monday confirmed the presence of a black panther in the state’s Garjanpahad reserve forest in Sundargarh district, The Hindu reported. Odisha is the ninth Indian state to have recorded the presence of black panthers.
“Black panther or melanistic leopard is a colour variant of the Indian leopard and the footage of this animal has been captured repeatedly by cameras installed in Garjanpahad reserve forest of Hemgir range of Sundargarh forest division,” said Sandeep Tripathi, Odisha’s chief wildlife warden. “The leopards’ skins vary in colour and the jet black melanistic form is called black panther. It is as shy as a normal leopard and very difficult to detect.”
Tripathi told the Hindustan Times that the cameras also detected the panther’s mother, which is a normal leopard.
The cameras were set up in 2015 under the guidance of Sundargarh Divisional Forest Officer Arun Kumar Mishra, and researchers Bhakta Rath and Nimain Palei after villagers and tribal people in Hemgir said they had seen the animal, The New Indian Express reported. Black panthers are usually found in densely forested areas of South India. It was recently sighted in Chhattisgarh’s Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve.