Black panther photographed in the wild

Prelims level : Animal Species Mains level : GS - III
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A melanistic leopard, commonly known a black panther, was recently photographed in the wild in the Nilgiris.

Conservationists said that sightings of melanistic leopards were not uncommon in the Nilgiris, especially in Kotagiri and parts of the Sigur plateau.

A conservationist based in the Nilgiris, said that a single litter of an adult leopard could contain both melanistic and non-melanistic, normal, coloured cubs. The coloration is because of a gene mutation. So black panthers as they are commonly called, are not a separate species adding that melanistic leopards are not an uncommon sight in and around Kotagiri.


Usually, they hide out in caves and are easily spotted when they venture out, especially during the day time.


Forest Department officials are aware of the presence of melanistic leopards in pockets of the Nilgiris forest division, and that regular patrols are undertaken around these forest patches to ensure that the animals are protected.

Other hazards, like traps laid to ensnare small game also pose a threat to carnivores, and the Forest Department regularly destroys these traps whenever they are found.

About Black Panther

  • Black panther or melanistic leopard is a colour variant of the Indian leopard.
  • 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. It is mostly found in densely forested areas of southern India.
  • The reserve forest where the footage of the black panther has been recorded is spread across the Hemgir and Gopalpur Range.
  • Black panthers have also been reported from Kerala (Periyar Tiger Reserve), Karnataka (Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary), Chhattisgarh (Achanakmar Tiger Reserve), Maharashtra (Satara), Goa (Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary), Tamil Nadu (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve), Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
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