A black panther has been seen in Sundergarh forest in Odisha for the first time, the Forest Department said. The black panther or melanistic leopard as it is called, was captured on camera while roaming in the forest.
The camera trap was installed at the Garjanpahad Reserve Forest under Hemgir in Sundargarh Forest Division, and the footage was captured a week ago, Odisha’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Wildlife Sandeep Tripathi said.
Twenty years ago, black panthers were reportedly spotted in Phulbani and Simlipal forests of the state, but there was no evidence in the absence of camera traps then.
Odisha is the ninth state where a black panther has been reported, Mr Bist said. Melanistic leopards or black panthers are also found in other states like Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Mr Tripathi said that Odisha is the only state in the country to have melanistic tigers, white tigers and now black panthers. The melanistic tiger was first reported in Similipal forest in 1993. The first photographic evidence about its presence was captured in 2007.