A forest range officer (FRO) in Karnataka's Nagarhole Tiger Reserve (NTR) on Monday spotted a black panther at a time when two photographs of a similar big cat have gone viral on social media. "An FRO in NTR has sighted a black panther on Monday," Deputy Conservator of Forests D Mahesh Kumar told IANS, sharing two photographs of the big cat.
The panther, which seemed to be 4-5 years old but whose sex could not be determined, was spotted on a large moss-laden tree branch in an attentive posture and looking backwards. In another shot on the same branch, the panther was looking back at the lens of the photographer in a rear focus posture.
Photo by Sharan Kumar
Sighting the big cat assumes significance because two more photographs of a black panther purported to be from Kabini in Mysuru district have taken the social media by storm with widespread sharing and retweeting. The Kabini photos were clicked by photographer Shaaz Jung.
A black panther roaming in the jungles of Kabini, India. pic.twitter.com/UT8zodvv0m— Earth (@earth) July 4, 2020
Shaaz Jung has been tracking widlife in Karnataka for several years now. You can check out his instagram account here.
Kumar said there are about half a dozen black panthers in Karnataka forests and one in Nagarhole, and though it is not impossible to spot them, they are rare.
NTR stretches between Kodagu and Mysuru districts and was a protected reserve from the time of the Wodeyar dynasty, rulers of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysuru. Nagarhole, which served as an exclusive hunting reserve of the Wodeyars, was made a wildlife sanctuary in 1955, covering an area of 284 square km - later stretched up to 643 square km. It was upgraded to a national park in 1988 and was brought into the fold of Project Tiger after being declared a tiger reserve in 1999.
Some of the animals which thrive in the reserve include tigers, panthers, wild dogs, elephants, bisons, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, sloth bears, wild boars, common langur, bonnet macaque and a variety of reptiles and birds.
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