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| Last Updated:10/09/2021

Latest News


Rare black leopard sighted in NNTR




A melanistic black leopard has been spotted in a camera trap during the recent census in Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) spread over Gondia and Bhandara districts of Maharashtra, forest officials said on Monday. NNTR, the widely loved and hardly celebrated tiger reserve, has numerous wild species and the spotting of the black leopard in Nawegaon block has given a pleasant surprise to the wildlife lovers and forest officials. The specie is one of the rarest and most elusive leopard species. The picture of the black leopard with its mate in the background was provided by Bilal Habib, Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India and it also reminds one of the famous leopard pair ‘Saya’ (the black leopard) and ‘Cleo’ (normal leopardess) from Kabini.


Saya is very well documented by famous photographer Shaaz Jung. In previous instances, sightings of the reclusive black leopard have been reported from Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) and Pench Tiger Reserve. Manikanda Ramanujam, Conservator of Forest and Field Director of NNTR has confirmed the sighting and admitted that the NNTR staff has captured the specie during the annual census and was sent for analysis to WII, Dehradun. A rusty spotted cat with kindle of kittens on the ground, which is also rare, was also spotted during the census. Wildlife lovers are upbeat over the sighting of the black leopard, but some felt discouraged due to the closure of the jungle safari due to monsoon. “The leopard pair picture belongs to Nawegaon region of the NNTR. Nawegaon has diverse biodiversity, and many rare species are reported from Nawegaon area in the past,” revealed Sawan Bahekar, Honorary Wildlife Warden from Gondia.


“That’s a great news for Nagzira. This will provide a much-needed boost to eco-tourism in Nagzira and Nawegaon,” remarked Nadeem Khan, Honorary Wildlife Warden from Bhandara. Indian leopards are listed as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and poaching. Melanistic leopards have a recessive mutation in the ASIP gene (which is related to skin/ eye/ hair pigmentation). The NNTR melanistic leopard has a lighter shade of black in the background, which could be some sort of gene expression problem, told Khan.