More than one black panther in Goa, say wild animals, locals | Goa News

PANAJI: Forestry Minister Vishwajit Rane on Sunday shared an image of a black panther (or melanistic leopard) captured on a camera trap in the forests of Mollem, and said the animal’s movements would be closely monitored by forestry officials. The presence and sightings of black panthers are generally considered rare, but in Goa their presence has been felt for a long time.
Naturalists claim that even at present there have been sightings to prove that more than one black leopard exists in Goa.
“An amazing sighting of the #BlackPanther captured in Mollem through the camera trap. I’ve asked the department to track and monitor the Black Panther‘s movements. We will set up more camera traps to monitor his movements thoroughly,” Rane tweeted. The melanistic color variant of a leopard or jaguar is known as the black panther. Melanism is a genetic disease in which an animal overproduces melanin, which is why the presence of a big black cat is considered an unusual occurrence.
This also makes sightings of more than one black leopard in Goa an interesting occurrence for naturalists.
“The big black cats spotted in Goa are melanistic leopards and these melanistic cats are not jet black in color. Even in the photo shared by the minister, the patterns on the leopard are visible due to the lighting,” said said Ramesh Zarmekar, a naturalist.
Zarmekar said sightings of black panthers were surprisingly not that unusual in Goa.
“At least four melanistic leopards may be present around the Sacorda area outside of Mollem Sanctuary boundaries, as estimated by sightings. There are some locations within these areas where there has been a sighting at least every ten days in recent months,” Zarmekar said.
He said that as melanistic leopards occur due to a genetic condition, they are rare. However, not just the black variant but all leopards outside the protected areas of Goa need a conservation plan at present.
“The ratio of the black variant to other leopards is very low. These inner sanctuary boundaries are already protected, but steps need to be taken to protect not only the black leopards, but all leopards in Goa. forest clearings, leopards are often spotted near human habitation, which can lead to human-wildlife conflict,” Zarmekar said.
Wildlife expert Amrut Singh said there have also been sightings of black leopards in the Sattari forests. “Black panthers have been spotted earlier and at present as well, and even caught by camera traps earlier in Goa. There are sightings at Sattari and in the past they have even been spotted at Bicholim in Karapur near the canal,” he said.

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